The pain and dysfunction involved with TMJ is known as Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). Specifically, TMD refers to the dysfunction and pain of the muscles of mastication, or the muscles that move the jaw, and Temporomandibular joints.
What Causes TMD
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) brings your upper teeth into contact with your lower teeth. This causes a hinge action and sliding motions. The joint is covered with cartilage and has a disk separating the parts that interact providing shock absorption. This allows for a smooth movement.
If the disk erodes or is moved out of proper alignment TMD will occur. TMD can also occur if the cartilage on the joint is damaged by arthritis. TMD will occur if the joint has been damaged by extreme impact as well. TMD can also occur if trauma occurs to the jaw or teeth, an individual grinds their teeth, through poor posture, stress, arthritis, other various inflammatory/musculoskeletal disorders, or the presence of bacteria or other infections.
Symptoms of TMJ Flare Ups
- Jaw pain
- Facial pain
- Clicking Jaw
- Sleep Apnea
- Numbness in extremities
- Teeth that are sensitive or sore
- Neck pain
- Shoulder pain
A TMJ flare up is the sudden increase of intensity of symptoms (single or multiple) for days to several weeks. The most common symptoms of a TMJ flare up are migraines, facial pain, and decreased ability to move the jaw.
Causes of a TMJ Flare Up
TMJ flare ups can be caused by several factors. If the teeth are misaligned, it can lead often lead to flare ups.
Missing a dose of medication can also cause flare ups. Medications should always be taken as prescribed by your doctor in order to prevent flare ups.
Food that is difficult to chew can lead to flare ups as they require more work from your joints. Avoiding high impact foods can allow the jaw to rest and decrease the severity of a flare up.
The weather can also cause flare ups, causing pain or stiffness in the jaw.
Acidic foods have been shown to increase the likelihood of painful flare ups and increase the severity of pain experienced. Individuals who experience TMJ flare ups should look into limiting the amount of acidic foods in their diet. Drinks that contain high levels of caffeine can cause flare ups as it is a stimulant and increases the likelihood of teeth grinding.
Clenching of the jaw at night (i.e., bruxism) can lead to TMJ flare ups. Bruxism should be evaluated by a professional in order to determine if it is the cause of TMJ flare ups.
Will Flare Ups Go Away on Their Own?
A TMJ flare up will likely last anywhere from days to weeks. However without addressing the underlying issue and healing the joint, the symptoms from TMJ will likely persist. It’s best to seek medical attention to see long term relief from your TMJ symptoms.
Contact AZ-TMJ Today
All of the aforementioned symptoms and causes should be taken into account when evaluating TMJ flare ups. If you would like to discuss your TMJ flare ups and treatment options we offer, call Dr. Farrell for a consultation at 480-945-3629 today.