TMJ is another one of those mysterious disorders that is common among ME/CFS & Fibromyalgia patients. I was just diagnosed with TMJ this week. My jaw began hurting extremely bad last week and it began to lock up as I smiled, yawned and chewed. The pain is absolutely miserable and I couldn’t believe it when I developed yet another chronic condition.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, or TMJ, causes pain in the muscles and joints of the jaw that can spread to the neck and shoulders. Some factors that can cause TMJ include clenching the jaw, or grinding teeth, stress, or some form of trauma. I don’t know why CFS & Fibromyalgia patients get TMJ, but I know in my own personal experience, I do have trouble dealing with stress and I find myself clenching my jaw frequently due to constant pain. Rheumatoid arthritis may also be a possible cause of TMJ for some patients. ME/CFS & Fibromyalgia who develop TMJ may possibly suffer more from the pain due to already being extra sensitive to pain.
According to the TMJ Facial Pain Center:
Various diseases can cause or aggravate TMJ problems. Immune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and systemic lupus erythematosus can produce inflammation in the TMJ. In addition, viral infections such as mononucleosis, mumps and measles can cause damage to the surfaces of the TMJ, which ultimately can lead to an internal derangement or damage to the articular disc.
TMJ is more common in women than men and there are approximately more than 35 million sufferers in the U.S. The tempormandibular joints connect the jaw to the skull. These joints are stabilized by ligaments and muscles that allow the mouth to open and close. When a person experiences pain in these joints, along with other symptoms described below, they are usually diagnosed with TMJ disorder.
Symptoms of TMJ include:
- pain/discomfort in the jaw
- difficulty and pain with chewing, opening, or closing the mouth
- clicking and/or popping of the jaw
- locking of the jaw
- change in bite
- ear pain, ear fullness
- sensitive teeth
- neck, shoulder pain
TMJ is typically treated with diet changes (soft diet), a night guard, medications, chiropractic or physical therapy, bite adjustment, orthodontic treatments. When all other treatments fail, surgery is a last resort.
For more information on TMJ, please visit the TMJ Association website.