Severe ear and jaw pain can affect your overall health and is a concern that should be addressed immediately so that you can resume your normal routine pain-free. But, what exactly causes this condition, and how can it affect your day-to-day life? This article tells you all you need to know about temporomandibular joint disorder.
What is Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome?
Temporomandibular joint(TMJ) syndrome is the pain in the joints of the jaw, and several medical conditions can cause it. This is why you must have a good idea of what causes the condition and its symptoms. The TMJ is a group of muscles that connects the lower jaw, also referred to as the mandible, to the skull just in front of the ear. Muscles that are involved in chewing are also connected to the lower jaw. Problems in this area can result in many problems that we will look at. Before then, you should also know that the TMJ comprises blood vessels, muscles, nerves, and bones. Each side of your jaw contains TMJ.
Therefore, the act of chewing is controlled by the TMJ, which facilitates hinge action and a gliding action that allows you to yawn, talk and chew as you go about your day. If you want to know exactly where the TMJ is located, place your fingers just in front of your ears and open your mouth.
What causes TMJ syndrome?
As we alluded to earlier, TMJ syndrome can be caused by a host of factors such as:
- Trauma. Trauma can further be divided into macro trauma and microtrauma. Microtrauma can occur internally, such as teeth grinding and repeated clenching. Grinding teeth is an especially popular cause of TMJ syndrome as it wears out the muscles in the joint and causes them to become inflamed. Grinding teeth can also cause the jaw bone to become misaligned. Macro trauma results from external forces such as a heavy punch to the jaw or the impact of an accident. These external factors can break the jawbone, dislocate the TMJ or cause damage to the cartilage disk of the joint.
- Osteoarthritis. Like other joints in your body, the jaw joints are susceptible to changes brought about by arthritis.
- Overuse of the muscles of chewing.
- Improper movement of the disk can cause erosion.
Long-term Effects of Ear and Jaw Pain on Your Health
Did you know that TMJ disorders can affect your overall health? Below are five of these effects.
1. Migraine Headaches
TMJ disorders have been cited as one of the causes of migraine headaches and other severe headaches. In many cases, the joints connecting the jaw and the skull become unaligned after a long TMJ disorder. To compensate for this situation, the muscles in your neck, face, jaw, and other body parts will become fatigued and stressed. This will result in excruciating headaches, leading to much time in agony. Overall, this will lower your quality of life and lead you to miss opportunities.
2. Discomfort in your Neck, Back, and Shoulder
The problems associated with TMJ disorder do not just affect the jaw area but also other parts of your body. The fatigue of your muscles will typically start from your jaw. The fatigue will then become worse over time and move to your vertebrae. This results in aches and pains in your back, hips, shoulders, and more. As time progresses, other joints in your body can also begin to develop alignment issues, resulting in even more discomfort in other body parts.
3. Hearing Damage and even Loss
Ear and jaw pain can present this frightening risk to your health since muscles connect the jaw to your skull at a point that is just close to the ear canal. Therefore, inflammation of the muscles and cartilage in this area can have damaging consequences. Severe cases can result in the ringing of the ears(tinnitus) and other complications that can culminate in hearing loss.
4. Development of Anxiety and Depression
Chronic pain and discomfort accompanying TMJ disorder can negatively impact an individual’s life. This pain and depression can lead one to become depressed when they consistently think about the pain they are going through.
5. Airway Sleep Disorder
When it goes untreated, TMJ infringes on your airway, meaning your brain will not get enough oxygen as you sleep. This can cause you to develop brain fog, sleep apnea, and other conditions that come with a lack of proper sleep.
Although TMJ disorder is not a life-threatening condition, it can certainly affect the quality of your life and leave you in chronic pain. Therefore, get medical attention as soon as possible if you present any disorder symptoms.