The human body has a number of different joints that are constantly under stress at all times. While the larger joints such as the knee joint, hip joint and shoulder joint are rather resilient, smaller joints can sometimes be affected by certain clinical conditions. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a hinge joint that is present within our skull and is the point where jaw movement occurs. It moves when we talk, we eat and we drink water, and even when we are stressed out.
While in most cases, the temporomandibular joint can handle any degree of stress, there are times when it can become rather painful. There are a number of different scenarios in which this can occur and here we shall take a look at what causes a painful temporomandibular joint in a little more detail.
The temporomandibular joint
The temporomandibular joint is a hinge joint which consists of the lower aspect comprised of the jaw and an upper aspect that is a part of the skull. Within the joint are present cartilage and a small amount of lubricating fluid known as synovial fluid. The cartilage is a shock absorber and absorbs a great deal of stress during different jaw movements.
Causes of painful TMJ
There are a variety of different reasons why a temporomandibular joint may become painful. Primarily, dislocation of the joint is a cause of discomfort. This can occur when the mouth is opened very wide when attempting to eat a large amount of food. This, however, is quite rare as jaw movement is always limited.
Pain in the TMJ can also be seen following some form of injury. Some examples include a whiplash injury sustained during a road traffic accident or a heavy blow directly on the jaw. Injury to the joint can also occur when the jaw is constantly being clenched. Some individuals have a habit of grinding their teeth (called bruxism) in their sleep and during times of stress. This can not only damage the tooth enamel but can also cause damage to the TMJ.
Osteoarthritis is a clinical condition that can affect joints anywhere in the body. As such, the TMJ is not spared either. Osteoarthritis of the TMJ can result in painful movements and difficulty chewing and moving the jaw.
In some individuals who have had orthodontic braces inserted, undue stress can be exerted on the TMJ and this can also result in pain. If you have jaw pain make sure to see a TMJ Specialist.
It is often misunderstood that a clicking sound heard during jaw movement is an indication of damage to the joint. However, this is not true and it must be remembered that that could be a normal sound in a number of individuals. Treatment is not required in such cases.
In conclusion, the TMJ is a constantly moving joint that is always under stress. Be that as it may, it is a resilient joint that requires a great deal of force or some form of disease process or habit to make it painful. One of the best TMJ doctors is Dr. Ronald Auvenshine.