ABOUT TMD/ Migraines
Did you know that 30%-40% of adults suffer from migraines, jaw pain, headache, neck pain, and shoulder pain? The good news … these symptoms can be reversed.
How many people suffer from TMD?
It is estimated that as many as 60 million Americans … 30% of the US population … suffer from TMD. TMD affects four times as many women as men, and it is most often a problem for those in their thirties and forties.
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), or TMJ syndrome refers to a complex and poorly understood set of conditions that can cause pain in the area of the jaw joint and associated muscles and/or problems using the jaw. Both or just one of the TM joints may be affected. The disorder and resultant dysfunction can affect a person’s ability to speak, eat, chew, swallow, make facial expressions, and even breathe.
This is arguably the most complex set of joints in the human body. Unlike typical finger or vertebral junctions, each TMJ actually has two joints, which allow it to both rotate and to translate (slide). With use, it is common to see wear of both the bone and cartilage components. Clicking is common, as are popping motions and deviations in the movements of the joint. It is considered a TMJ disorder when pain is involved.
In a healthy joint, the surfaces in contact with one another (bone and cartilage) do not have any receptors to transmit the feeling of pain. The pain therefore originates from one of the surrounding soft tissues. When receptors from one of these areas are triggered, the pain causes a reflex to limit the mandible’s movement. Furthermore, inflammation of the joints can cause constant pain, even without movement of the jaw.
Disorders of the teeth can contribute to TMJ dysfunction. Impaired tooth mobility and tooth loss can be caused by destruction of the supporting bone and by heavy forces being placed on teeth. The movement of the teeth affects how they contact one another when the mouth closes, and the overall relationship between the teeth, muscles, and joints can be altered.
What Causes TMD?
Temporomandibular disorders rarely have a single cause. Any one of the following factors may contribute to TMD. Each patient presents with an individual combination of factors that are determined during history taking and clinical exam.
- Trauma-Acute trauma to the jaws such as a car accident, a fall, a punch, etc. can cause damage to the muscles and/or joint. The acute pain and loss of function is usually responsive to conservative treatment. Sometimes trauma to the joint can cause chronic damage which may eventually contribute to a TMD problem at a later time.
- Bruxism- Bruxism refers to a non functional grinding and clenching of the teeth. Some do this while awake but more often it is done while sleeping. Most people grind their teeth while sleeping to some degree. For whatever reason some people do this very hard to the point where they wear the enamel from their teeth. This bruxing is done by the jaw muscles and by the morning they can be painful due to fatigue. This constant pressure also can damage the TMJs over time. Bruxism is the most common factor found in TMD.
- Malocclusion- This term means "bad bite". Sometimes when the teeth do not bite together in harmony with the shape and position of the joints it can place pressure on the joints. Missing teeth can sometimes contribute to this as well. The misalignment can also put strain on the jaw muscles. This factor can be mild to severe. Though the bite is an important part of the whole system it is only altered after conservative measures and only if it is felt improvement will result.
- Emotion- Emotional stress often plays an integral role in the development of TMD. This occurs due to two basic reasons. Stress increases both the severity and duration of bruxism while asleep. Also, many will subconsciously clench and/or grind their teeth more while awake during times of stress. The other way stress contributes to TMD is that during times of stress your adaptability and pain threshold will go down. As a result you are more likely to experience symptoms of TMD if other factors already exist (bruxing, joint damage, etc.).
Emotional conditions beyond daily life stress can contribute to TMD as well. Depression, anxiety disorders, and the like can often have TMD problems arise. These conditions are quite stressful and it is not hard to imagine why TMD would develop.
- Ergonomic -Your job and how you do it can contribute to TMD and related problems. If you work at a computer all day, for example, you may be holding your head in such a way that places strain on your system.
People with TMD can experience severe pain and discomfort that can be temporary or last for many years.
Is TMD curable?
Although TMD can become a chronic problem often associated with some permanent damage from trauma to the head, neck, back, or temporomandibular joint, even in the worst cases the symptoms can be eliminated through proper professional care.