Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the hinged joint in your jaw that allows it to open and close. It is no wonder, then, that disorders affecting the TMJ can cause pain throughout your jaw. However, TMJ disorder (TMD) can also cause many unexpected side effects. The New Jersey TMJ specialists at Headache and TMJ Center of New Jersey explore some of them here.
A Tired-Feeling Face
It is common for your leg muscles to feel tired after a jog or for the muscles in your arms to feel tired after swimming. However, you might feel perplexed if your face feels tired — after all, how much exercise do your facial muscles normally get? If you have TMD, your facial muscles, especially the Masseter and Temporalis muscles around your jaw, may actually be experiencing too much activity (from grinding or clenching your teeth together), which could result in a tired-feeling face.
Swelling of the Face
Facial swelling could be caused by a number of factors. If one side of your face is swollen, you might have a dental problem such as an abscess in your gums or a toothache. Outside trauma to the face could also cause facial swelling. Another possible cause of swelling of one or both sides of the face is TMJ disorder.
Neck, Shoulder and Back Pain
Again, it makes sense that TMJ disorder would cause pain throughout your jaw area, but another surprising side effect of TMD is pain throughout your neck, shoulders or even your upper back. Chronic jaw clenching or a misaligned bite causing TMD can eventually cause symptoms that radiate to other parts of your upper body if left untreated.
Ringing in the Ears
Are you experiencing a ringing in your ears (i.e., tinnitus), even though you did not attend a loud concert last night? You might be surprised to know that tinnitus is one possible symptom of TMD. As the jaw muscles spasm or tighten as a result of TMD, the tightening effect may eventually be transferred to the nearby muscles, some of which are located in the inner ear and can cause you to hear a ringing sound in your ears.
If you feel dizzy or often experience vertigo, it could be a sign of TMD. Yes, vertigo could be caused by an injury, a brain problem such as stroke or other outside factors. However, in the same way that TMJ disorder can cause a ringing in the ears, it can also affect the part of your inner ear that helps you stay balanced, thereby making you feel dizzy or unsteady.
What to Do If You Think You Might Have TMD
Because TMD symptoms can be mild, have a gradual onset or occur sporadically, it is often hard to tell if you have TMD. The best thing to do if you are experiencing any of the symptoms above is to contact a TMJ specialist for an evaluation and to hear about your possible treatment options. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Ivan F. Stein or his trusted team of TMJ experts, contact Headache and TMJ Center of New Jersey by calling (855) 865-3627.