Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJD)
Many people with fibromyalgia must also face the pain caused by temporomandibular joint disorder, an illness that affects the muscles and joints in the face. TMJ disorder can cause a variety of uncomfortable symptoms, including nausea, headache, dizziness, and jaw difficulties.
About 90% of fibromyalgia sufferers are thought to experience facial and jaw pain, and a large number of these probably have TMJ disorder. Diagnosis of TMJD can sometimes be difficult, especially for those who already have fibromyalgia.
What is Temporomandibular Joint Disorder?
TMJD is a disorder that affects the functioning of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), more commonly referred to as the jawbone. TMJD also attacks the muscles and cartilage throughout the face, head, and neck.
TMJ dysfunction can cause a variety of problems, ranging from headaches to a locked jaw, so it is important to get any symptoms of TMJD properly diagnosed.
Jaw problems are not unusual in our society. More than 40% of the population will experience some type of jaw problem in their life. But TMJD is more than just a little jaw problem – it is a serious joint disorder that can cause extreme pain and discomfort.
When coupled with fibromyalgia symptoms, TMJD can be debilitating. It is thought that more than 75% of people with fibromyalgia also suffer from some type of TMJD. About 25% of these people suffer chronically from TMJD. Like fibromyalgia, most sufferers of TMJD are female and between the ages of 20 and 50.
Types of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
There are two main types of TMJD:
Joint TMJD: Joint TMJD usually does not affect people with fibromyalgia, though in some cases it can occur. Joint TMJD is caused by measurable damage to the cartilage or ligaments surrounding the temporomandibular joint. This damage can be the result of trauma, dental abnormalities, or tooth clenching.
Joint TMJ symptoms include:
- popping or clicking of the jaw joint
- locking of the jaw (in which you can’t fit more than two fingers in the mouth)
- pain on one side of the jaw joint
Muscular TMJD: Muscular TMJD more commonly affects those with fibromyalgia. This type of TMJD affects the muscles used to chew and move the scalp, face, neck, and shoulders.
Some physicians consider muscular TMJD to be a type of fibromyalgia, although you can get this disorder without being diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
Causes of TMJ may include: sleep deprivation, trauma to the muscles, stress, traumatic events, or problems with neurotransmitters in the brain.
Muscular TMJ symptoms include:
- pain on both sides of the jaw joint
- difficulty opening and closing the mouth