TMJ is short for Temporomandibular Joint, the joint that connects your jaw to your skull. It’s one of the most complex joints in the human body, as it allows for both hinge action and sliding motions.
The complexity is also due to the different moving parts of the joint – there’s the mandible, or jaw bone; the temporal bone, which is the side and bottom of the cranium or skull; and the disc that rests in between the two bones. When you open your mouth, the jaw bone initially swings from the TMJ in a hinge action. Once the mouth is opened further, the jaw begins to slide downwards and forwards, with the disc moving along with the jaw bone. The reverse happens when you close your mouth.
How many times you open and close your mouth in a day? Most people don’t even think about it, but the average person activates their TMJ 1,500 times in 24hrs. With so much movement going on, you’d think that the TMJ would get more attention.
Unfortunately, this joint is only noticed when something goes wrong – and when that happens, it’s usually not a mild case of discomfort. TMJ disorders are more common than you think, and you might be suffering from symptoms without really knowing that a TMJ disorder is causing them. Some common symptoms that may be TMJ related are –
Cluster headaches (frequent headaches on consecutive days)
Upper back pain, usually around the neck and shoulders
Ear aches or ringing in the ears
Difficulty breathing and general fatigue
How can you check if you might have a TMJ disorder? Check our blog for some self-tests!