TMJ Symptoms

What is temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder?

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder is a pain condition that is associated with an abnormalilty of one or both of the joints where the jaw bone (mandible) attaches to the skull. Temporomandibular joint disorder is often referred to as TMJ syndrome. The TMJ can cause pain when it is affected by arthritis, dislocation injury, or strain injury such as from eating hard foods.

TMJ symptoms

The symptoms of TMJ syndrome include pain at the sides of the face, popping or clicking of the jaw with opening and closing the mouth, trouble eating, and headaches. There can be tenderness at the temporomandibular joint. With certain forms of TMJ disorder there can be locking of the jaw. Persons who commonly grind their teeth at night or clench their jaw under stress are at risk for developing TMJ disorder. Many persons with TMJ disorder can have difficulty undergoing a dental examination because it is painful to open the mouth widely.

TMJ symptom pain relief

Pain relief from TMJ syndrome only comes with cold pack application, resting the jaw muscles, massage of facial muscles, and sometimes medications to reduce inflammation. Treatment is best guided by a professional medical evaluation.

Medically reviewed by Aimee V. HachigianGould, MD; American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery


Klippel, John H., et al. Primer on the Rheumatic Diseases. 13th ed. Springer, 2008.