The TMJ

Dr. Roberson is trained to recognize and treat a variety of acute and chronic facial pains. One common source of facial pain involves the temporomandibular joint, which is referred to as TMJ. The TMJ is a small joint that is located in the front of the ear and it is one of the most constantly used joints in the body. It allows the lower jaw to move and function as a “ball and socket” joint. When all of the structures within the TMJ are in harmony and working properly, the joint operates smoothly and without problems. However, this joint is susceptible to the same diseases that can occur with other joints in the body such as arthritis, stress, trauma, displaced or damaged discs.

TMJ disorders can be present with a variety of signs and symptoms such as the following:

  • Painful clicks or pops during opening and closing of the mouth.
  • Teeth grinding or clinching
  • Sore jaw muscles when awakening
  • Inability to open mouth fully
  • Pain in TMJ area
  • Locking of jaw

When you present to the office, we will ask you to complete a facial pain questionnaire. Dr. Roberson will then perform a thorough head and neck examination including the TMJ area. A variety of tests may be needed to correctly diagnose a TMJ disorder. These may include a MRI, which produces images of the joint and surrounding soft tissue, or CT scans, which is used to identify any bone problems.

Once properly diagnosed, most TMJ disorders can be treated with medications, physical therapy, and/or splint therapy. If there is a specific problem within the joint surgery may be necessary.

Myofascial Pain Dysfunction (MPD) is another facial pain that can be confused with TMJ. This disorder presents with muscle pain and tenderness, limitation in jaw mobility, and localized pain. This is treated different from a TMJ disorder.

The key to resolving a facial pain, whether it be acute or chronic, is making the right diagnosis. Dr. Roberson can work with you to diagnose your specific problem and recommend a broad range of treatment options. Please call the office for more information.