One of the aspects of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ/TMD) that makes it complex is that its symptoms affect so many different parts of the body. Because of its baffling array of symptoms, TMJ often goes misdiagnosed or undiagnosed for many years.

Some hugely gifted medical professionals don’t have the education, experience, and knowledge required to diagnose and treat jaw joint dysfunction in the temporomandibular region of the head. A Wilmington, Delaware, TMJ dentist can use advanced dental technology and their keen awareness of this complex disorder to diagnose and treat your TMJ symptoms.

A Myriad of TMJ Symptoms

Some people only experience one or two TMJ symptoms, while others suffer a number of the signs and symptoms of TMJ. You may have pain in the jaw, face, ear, and even the back and hands. Your jaw may make clicking or popping noises when you eat, yawn, talk, or laugh. You may experience ringing in the ears, known as “tinnitus". You may have chronic neck pain and stiffness in the neck. Neck symptoms are quite common with TMJ but may include some lesser-known symptoms.

TMJ neck symptoms may include:

  • Chronic neck pain or stiffness (it may feel like you “slept on it wrong”)
  • Poor range of motion of the neck
  • Soreness in the neck
  • Shoulder aches and tightness
  • Upper back ache and tightness
  • Tingling and/or numbness in the arms, hands, and fingers
  • Chronic sore throat void of infection
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty swallowing

You can see by this list why TMJ is often missed when people present with neck symptoms and throat problems. How on Earth could a jaw joint problem cause swallowing difficulty or sore throat?

The TMJ-Neck Pain Connection

The TMJ is the most complex joint in the human body and moves in a combination of ways that no other joint moves. It acts like a hinge and allows movement of the two sides of the face, both forward and back and up and down. No other joint in the body allows movement in all directions like the TMJ; it’s a hard-working joint needed for a great deal of movement. Painful symptoms occur when something goes wrong with the joint or the jaw is not properly aligned.

Radiating Inflammation

When you have Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, the inflammation within the joint on either side of your face will travel. As the inflammation spreads, it moves along the nerves and muscles in your head. The result of spreading inflammation is pain in the neck and surrounding areas.

In the human musculoskeletal system, joint and muscle movements do not take place in isolation. It’s a complicated system of various parts working together to allow smooth and purposeful movement in different parts of our body. Misalignment of the TMJ will affect other parts of the body, including the neck and back. Muscle pain, muscle weakness, and muscle tension at the jaw joint will travel to your neck, back, and even upper extremities.

Neck Pain and TMJ Treatment

Your Wilmington, DE, TMJ dentist will perform a comprehensive examination using advanced dental technology to track the sounds and movements of your jaw. TMJ treatment may begin after your dentist has a clear picture of what is going on with your Temporomandibular Joint. There are numerous conservative, highly effective treatments for TMJ, and surgery is almost never necessary.

Many patients find relief after just a few Transcutaneous Electric Never Stimulation (TENS) sessions, in which small electrodes are placed on the affected areas. Gentle electrical pulses are delivered to the painful, tense areas with the goal of relaxing those areas and allowing your jaw to find its optimal position.

Neuromuscular dentistry utilizes a number of dental restorations and the use of neuromuscular orthodontics to keep the jaw in a position that is comfortable and natural instead of one that causes stress, pain, and tension.

Learn More About TMJ Neck Symptoms

If you feel you may have TMJ and are suffering some of the symptoms discussed here, please contact Dr. Garrett Goodling today at (302) 994-0979. You may also fill out our online contact form, and one of our dental team members will reach out to answer questions or schedule a new patient evaluation.