TMJ pain or TMJ ear pain are the common terms used to describe a jaw joint disorder. Many call it “TMJ ear pain” because jaw issues or disorders often send pain to the ears. Ear pain or hearing symptoms caused by jaw disorders are because of the ligamentous link between the ear and why many complain of ear issues combined with jaw disorder. In short, the middle ear is connected to the TMJ joint through ligamentous connections. The discomalleolar ligament originating from the back of your jaw joint enters the middle ear. TMJ ear pain or TMJ pain can further cause other symptoms, including headaches, neck pain, dizziness, ringing in the ear, and even difficulty swallowing food.
Successful and speedy recovery is dependent on timely treatment that targets the cause of your jaw disorder. This article focuses on the causes of TMJ pain (TNJ ear pain) and provides you with the essential information you need for complete recovery.
Common Causes Of TMJ Ear Pain, TMJ Pain & Dysfunction
TMJ ear pain and dysfunction can be due to a host of problems. Recovery from TMJ pain is easy if appropriate treatments follow early diagnosis. However, many that suffer from jaw pain are unaware of issues until there is significant pain. Therefore, it is a good idea to understand the common causes of TMJ ear pain and dysfunction. Chiropractic Specialty Center® has the best clinical teams of Chiropractors who are backed with advanced physiotherapists. Our TMJ pain treatment follows the corrective principles of care that target the actual cause of your jaw pain. An expert team of chiropractors and physiotherapists. Their goals are to get you better and help you maintain improvements. In other words, our TMJ pain treatment offers you the lasting relief you need.
It’s nice to have some basic information about the possible causes of TMJ pain (TMJ ear pain). Having this information may assist you, and our clinical team will treat you with a higher degree of efficacy. For this reason, we have provided you on this page a list of the more common causes of jaw pain and dysfunction. We have divided them into articular (joint) and extra-articular causes. Here are the typical intra-articular (joint-related) causes for jaw dysfunction:
- Intra-Articular causes/Internal derangement (internal structural changes within the TMJ
- Extra-Articular sources (problems with structures aside from the Jaw Joint)
Neck Disorders Are Common Causes Of Jaw Problems & TMJ Ear Pain
In addition to the intra-articular causes of TMJ pain (TMD: Temporo-Mandibular Disorder), there are numerous extra-articular causes of pain or discomfort. These may include muscle and soft tissues in proximity to the jaw and even pathology (cancer). It behooves one not to account for all possible causes before initiating care. Therefore, it is only befitting to include the extra-articular causes in our TMJ pain discussion (the non-articular or extra-articular sources of a TMD or TMD-like discomfort). The two most common nonarticular causes are:
- Cervical spine instabilities (neck pain or neck problems)
- Over-activity of the jaw muscles, such as seen with those that chew gum
To familiarize you better, we will discuss some of these (Intra-articular and extra-articular) sources of pain in a degree of greater detail.
Intra-Articular sources Of TMD (Jaw Disorders)
These are conditions and problems that occur within the jaw joint, better known as the “Intra-Articular sources of TMD (TMJ pain or jaw pain).” The intra-articular sources of jaw pain are perhaps the most common causes of TMJ pain and dysfunction. It is also the hardest one to fix. Furthermore, when the intra-articular sources go untreated for a period, it will lead to extra-articular tissue involvement. Thus, a complicated case and the reason why so many go on suffering needlessly. Avoid worsening your jaw pain by getting the best non-surgical jaw pain treatments from our American chiropractic doctors in Malaysia.
Inflammation (swelling): Is A significant Direct Source Of Temporomandibular Discomfort
Inflammatory condition(s) within the joint is always a steady source of TMJ pain. While this applies to any joint, it bears vital importance when it comes to the TMJ. As with any joint, an inflammatory source of pain is often the result of direct trauma. In TMJ, this injury can include a blow to the chin or jaw. Trauma, such as whiplash injury, heavy chewing, bruxism (grinding), or clenching of the jaws, is the culprit in any inflammatory process involving the jaws. Moreover, there is evidence that decreased dental height resulting from premature wear and tear or missing teeth impacts your jaws’ health.
Two Inflammatory Terms Apply To This Particular Source Of Symptoms:
- Synovitis – Synovitis is a term used to associate an inflammatory condition to the synovium or the joint capsule when it is inflamed. The synovium is the layer protecting joints and tendons sheaths. If this layer of tissue (synovium) is inflamed (Synovitis), TMJ pain (jaw pain) can result. In addition to pain, there may even be a limitation of the range of motion, especially at the end of the range.
- Internal derangement – The term internal derangement is descriptive of a condition or conditions where there are specific structural changes within the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ). Internal derangements of TMJ are the result of direct trauma, such as a direct blow to the jaw or falling on one’s jaw. The Indirect forms of trauma include whiplash, chronic clenching or grinding, aggressive chewing, or excessive and prolonged opening of one’s mouth, such as that during a dental procedure.
For the TMJ, there are two specific forms of internal defragments, and they are as follows:
- Disc displacement with reduction (DDwR)
- Disc displacement without reduction
The Disc displacement With Reduction (DDwR)
In this type of disorder, the articular disc can become displaced in any given direction. The articular disc is a thin, oval plate placed between the two bony surfaces of the TMJ (Jaw Joint). To be exact, the articular disc lies between the condyle of the mandible and the mandibular fossa. The mandibular fossa is a depression in the zygomatic process of the Temporal bone for the jaw.
The upper surface of the articular disc is concavo-convex. It is made so to accommodate the shape of the mandibular fossa and the articular tubercle. The articular tubercle lies at the inferior (lower) aspect of the zygomatic process of the temporal bone. The bottom surface of the articular disc is convex in shape as it comes in contact with the mandible’s condyle. The articular disc’s circumference connects to the articular capsule. At the anterior (in the front), it is attached to the tendon of the pterygoideus externus muscle or the external pterygoid muscle. The articular disc is thicker at its periphery (most posterior aspect), particularly in the most posterior position than at its center.
Articular Disc Displacement Without Reduction
Articular disc displacement can cause significant TMJ pain (TMJ ear pain) and loss of range. The jaw of patients with an articular disc displacement may deviate from the affected side. There will be no clicking sound, but often the patient may report there was a click at the time when their jaw locked.
The image above depicts a displaced disc. The picture shows a stretched retro-discal tissue with anterior displacement of the articular disc. Disc displacements are a common cause of jaw pain. Disc displacements can occur medially or laterally. Often when there is a malpositioning of the disc, there will be a “popping” sound. In patients with a displaced articular disc, this “popping” sound occurs when they open the jaw (mouth) as this causes the dysfunctional disc to displace and hence create a “popping” sound. At times this popping sound can be heard easily. It is quite audible. Most often, a loud popping sound accompanying pain is suggestive of articular disc displacement. However, at the early stages of disorder or “partial disc displacement,” the disc is not entirely off the condyle, and often there is no pain or uncomfortable feelings.
Arthritis Of The Jaw Joint
As we mentioned, earlier arthritis is common in patients with a TMD. Two types of arthritic processes can affect the TMJ:
- Degenerative Arthritis
- Inflammatory Arthritis
Degenerative arthritis – Degenerative arthritic processes are common in most chronic cases of jaw pain. Arthritis present on plain X-ray films or OPG as flattening of the condylar head. The MRI can give more information about the osteophytic formations with views in both open and closed positions. Crepitus is common in those who have degenerative arthritis. Degenerative arthritis of the jaw is an intra-articular cause of TMD: often seen in those over the age of 50. However, younger adults with a history of trauma may also have degenerative arthritis. And as such, we encourage all jaw pain sufferers to visit one of our centers for accurate diagnosis and jaw pain treatments before it progresses to the degenerative arthritis stage.
The inflammatory joint disease can also affect the TMJ. These conditions include rheumatoid arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis, infectious arthritis, Reiter syndrome, and gout.
Extra-Articular Causes Of TMD (Jaw Pain & TMJ Ear Pain)
In this section, we will cover some of the extra-articular causes of TMJ pain and discomfort. If you don’t find the information you are seeking here, please call our center. We ask all visitors to refrain from self-diagnose their health condition! The information is provided to help you better understand the already established diagnosis that your physician has rendered.
Should you have any questions or concerns about any part of your diagnosis or the recommended care by either one of our experts or others, please feel free to contact our center at 03-2093 1000. All of our Centers are here to help and assist you live a better, healthier life. This section will discuss the four most common extra-articular causes of TMJ pain: muscle spasms, cervical posture disorders, temporal tendinopathy, and fractures. We will discuss each.
Muscle Spasm & Jaw Pain
Muscle spasms have been discovered to cause a significant amount of TMJ pain and discomfort for many. The term TRISMUS (triz-mes) is descriptive of spasms in jaw muscles. Trismus results in an inability to open the mouth. This muscle tightening that impacts one or more of the muscles used in chewing (TRISMUS or inability to fully opens the mouth is common in persons with tightened or spasmodic muscles that help with chewing (muscles of mastication). In total, there are three muscles of mastication; masseter, temporalis, and pterygoid muscles.
Trismus causes include stress, bruxism, postural dysfunction, prolonged dental procedures, or anesthetics where the mouth has been held open for extended periods.
Cervical Postural Disorder &Temporomandibular Joint (Jaw joint)
Postural Disorder and neck issues will cause jaw pain. The anterior belly of the digastric muscle runs from the point of the chin to the hyoid bone. This muscle is of extreme importance because it can lead to TMJ malfunction and pain.
The Digastric muscle is a small muscle located beneath the jaw. The digastric muscle is a leading cause of TMJ pain. This muscle lies below the body of the mandible (jaw bone) and extends in a curved form, from the mastoid process (out poking at the base of the skull) to the symphysis menti (the chin). Now, sitting in for prolonged periods with forwarding head and neck postures will have a higher risk of developing neck and jaw problems. A forward head and neck posture push the jaw joint (mandibular condyle) against the jaw disc or retro-discal tissue. As such, it leads to swelling and gradual degeneration of the articular disc (jaw disc). Thus, another good reason why we ask you to mind your posture and limit your laptop use.
Jaw Pain and Temporal Tendonopathy
Temporal Tendinopathy is the result of excessive contraction of the temporalis muscle, usually due to bruxism. Patients with temporal tendinopathy present with swelling, pain, or tenderness at their skull’s temporal regions.
Mandibular fractures occurring at the mandibular symphysis or the condylar neck can be a source of pain for the jaw. The mechanism of injury is often a blow to the chin or a fall on the jaw.
The Spine & Jaw correlations:
Now that you have learned a little about the common causes of TMJ pain and dysfunction originating directly from the jaw joint let’s look at a none extra-articular sources of jaw pain. The cervical spine disorders, such as a slip-disc, coexist 70% of the time with TMJ. In our centers, we screened for a TMD with every neck pain sufferer and screen the neck of those that present with jaw pain. The cervical spine is a common cause of TMJ symptoms. Our centers offer research-based clinical chiropractic and physiotherapy treatments for jaw pain. Our chiropractic methods of care in Malaysia and our clinical physiotherapy have succeeded even if others have failed.
The association between the jaw and the neck was research published by Dr. Ciancaglini, Dr. Testa, and Dr. Radaelli. The title of their research was the Association of neck pain with TMJ symptoms in the general adult population, published in the Scandinavian Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine in 1999.
Differential Diagnoses For Jaw Dysfunction
Pseudo-hypomobilities: muscle spasm, surgical interventions for the jaws, intra and extracapsular irritations, neoplasm, inflammatory diseases, and trauma.
True hypomobilities: chronic post-surgical, arthritic conditions and fibrosis adhesions
We hope that the information provided about the common causes of TMJ pain and dysfunction was helpful. Please refrain from diagnosis and self-treating any part of your body. If you need help, call our center at 03-2093 1000. We will be glad to get one of our team members on the line to answer your concerns. We have a team of non-surgical specialists (chiropractors and physiotherapists) ready to get your jaw problems under control. All you have to lose is jaw pain!
The Top 10 Best TMJ Pain Remedies & Self-Help Tips
If you follow some of the basic self-help tips below, your jaw pain will do better:
- Change to softer foods such as pasta and soups
- Take smaller bites or cut your food to smaller portions to avoid overworking the jaw joints.
- Improve your neck posture by avoiding prolonged bending of the head and neck
- Don’t chew gum
- Avoid raw veggies and fruits such as apples and carrots.
- Don’t crunch ice and avoid hard candies and nuts Limit the opening of your mouth when yawning.
- Please stay away from caffeinated beverages as they cause tightening of muscles.
- Supplement Vitamin C and magnesium to help recovery and decrease muscle tension
- Use moist heat for 5 minutes, followed by a 5-minute Ice massage of your jaw joints.
- Self-massage the temporal areas of your skull for 5-10 minutes
If your jaw pain persists, you need customized TMJ pain treatment from our expert chiropractors and physiotherapists.
What Is The Best Treatment For TMJ Ear Pain In Malaysia?
TMJ pain treatment needs to focus on customized treatment plans that target the all-causative factor involved in your jaw pain. As discussed earlier, most jaw sufferers present with neck issues and problems at the base of the skull. TMJ pain treatment that ignores neck and skull disorders is doomed to fail¬—as such. We encourage you to visit one of our jaw experts. We have treated thousands of jaw pain patients over the last 13-years. If you follow our treatment plan and recommendation, you will improve drastically.
Our methods of TMJ treatment include corrective chiropractic combined with clinical physiotherapy. Also, we will liaise with your dentist or refer you to one we have worked with before. The combined care you get from our clinical teams and your dentist is vital to lasting relief. Contact us today and get the best TMJ pain treatment in Malaysia today.