TMJ Ear Pain: What Causes It And What Is the Best Solution - FOX21- Entertaining Delmarva One Click at a Time

TMJ Ear Pain: What Causes It And What Is the Best Solution


tmj ear pain

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Have you ever had an aching pain in your jaw that moves into your ear? It REALLY hurts.

Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorder is most often called TMJ. Between 5% and 12% of people have TMJ problems at some point. This happens twice as much in women as men.

Keep reading to learn more about TMJ ear pain.

What Is TMJ?

The term, TMJ, refers to a collection of conditions. Your symptoms may be due to problems with the temporomandibular joints, jaw muscles, and/or facial nerves. It results from side-movement or twisting when opening and closing your mouth.

People often report the following symptoms:

  • Pain inside and around the ear
  • Headaches
  • Neckaches
  • Tenderness in the jaw or jaw muscles
  • Increased jaw pain in the morning or later afternoon
  • Pain when biting, chewing, or yawning
  • Trouble opening and closing your mouth
  • Hearing a clicking or popping noise in the jaw when opening your mouth
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Other dental problems

TMJ is the most common cause of ongoing facial pain not related to a dental problem.

What Are Some Risk Factors for TMJ?

Several risk factors are associated with TMJ:

  • Incorrect posture of the neck and upper back muscles causing strain
  • Stress that causes grinding of teeth, jaw clenching, and muscle tension
  • Women aged 18 to 44 years
  • Chronic inflammatory arthritis
  • Injury to the jaw
  • Misaligned teeth

If you are concerned about TMJ, talk to your dentist or physician.

What Causes TMJ Ear Pain?

The face and jaw area, known as the maxillofacial region, contains a complex and closely connected system of muscles and nerves. This allows you to form smiles and expressions. This also lets you talk, eat, yawn, and more.

The downside occurs when something goes wrong in this TMJ area. The muscles and nerves affected can cause pain and trouble with movement. When these muscles become strained, you can experience pain in and around your ear.

The good news is that by correcting the TMJ problem, you can relieve the ear pain. So, if you are experiencing ear pain see a doctor and find out if you have an ear infection or other ear-related problems. If that is all normal, see if your ear pain is related to your TMJ.

How Can You Treat TMJ Ear Pain?

Once you determine that your ear pain is related to TMJ, its time to get that fixed. The dentist or physician may use several treatment options.

The physician may prescribe medications:

  • Pain relievers or anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen or prescription-strength non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline help to relieve pain, control teeth grinding (bruxism), and trouble sleeping
  • Muscle relaxants taken for a few days or weeks helps relieve muscle spasms

Non-medicinal treatments include:

  • Mouthguards or oral splints to keep you from grinding and help keep your jaw in proper alignment
  • Physical therapy exercises work to stretch and strengthen the muscles of the jaw
  • Ultrasound and moist heat and/or ice help with relaxation
  • Counseling helps you recognize the factors and behaviors that may contribute to your pain

Surgical procedures may be indicated when other measures have failed:

  • Arthrocentesis
  • Corticosteroid or Botox injections
  • TMJ arthroscopy
  • Modified condylotomy
  • Open-joint surgery

Talk to your doctor today about the treatment option that is right for you. Early treatment often proves more effective.

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