Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ)

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

What is temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome?

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome, also known as the temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD), is a disorder of the jaw muscles and nerves caused by injury to the temporomandibular joint. The temporomandibular joint is the connection between the jawbone to the skull. The injured temporomandibular joint leads to pain with chewing, clicking, and popping of the jaw; swelling on the sides of the face; nerve inflammation; headaches; tooth grinding; and sometimes dislocation of the temporomandibular joint.

What are the risk factors for TMJ syndrome?

There are several risk factors for TMJ syndrome:

  • Poor posture in the neck and upper back muscles may lead to neck strain and abnormalities of jaw muscle function.
  • Stress may increase muscle tension and jaw clenching.
  • Women aged 18 to 44 have increased risk.
  • Patients with other chronic inflammatory disorders and painful musculoskeletal conditions have increased risk.
  • People with jaw trauma or poorly positioned teeth have increased risk.
  • People who have a genetic predisposition to pain sensitivity and increased stress responses may be more susceptible.

What causes TMJ syndrome?

Comment on this

The causes of TMJ syndrome are not completely understood. Multiple factors contribute to the muscle tightness and dysfunction that characterize this condition. It is not clear whether some of these causes directly lead to TMJ syndrome or if they are a result of the disorder. Causes may include:

  • Misalignment (malocclusion) of or trauma to the teeth or jaw
  • Teeth grinding
  • Poor posture
  • Stress
  • Arthritis or other inflammatory musculoskeletal disorders
  • Excessive gum chewing
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/14/2014

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

TMJ - Symptoms Question: Besides pain, what TMJ symptoms do you experience?
TMJ - Treatment Question: What treatment have you had for TMJ?
TMJ - Exercises Question: Have you tried exercises or other self-care measures to prevent TMJ symptoms?
TMJ - Pain Question: What kind of activities exacerbate your TMJ pain?
TMJ - Causes Question: What causes your TMJ symptoms?

TMJ Symptoms and Causes

The temporomandibular joints are complex structures containing muscles, tendons, and bones. Injury to or disorders of these structures can all result in pain in the jaw area.


STAY INFORMED

Get the Latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!