Symptoms of TMJ Dysfunction

The symptoms of TMJ dysfunction are unbelievably diverse, both in nature and in severity. The most common symptoms are migraine-like headaches, which seem to come from behind the eyes or the side of the head. Also, there are the headaches or neckaches, which occur at the back of the head right where the neck attaches to the skull. People usually describe these neckaches as "tension headaches", as they are often associated with stress. The pain often radiates down into one or both shoulders. Another type of headache associated with TMJ dysfunction may occur in the area of the cheekbones, resembling a "sinus headache." Still other types of TMJ headaches are those which occur right in the top of the head, or in the area of the jaw joint, or fan out over the side of the head. These types may be either continuous or sort of come in waves.

Slightly less frequent, but occasionally more severe symptoms include vertigo (dizziness), ringing in the ears, lancing pain in one or both ears or in the jaw joint itself, hearing difficulties, stuffiness in one or both ears, light sensitivity in the eyes, ulcer-like pains in the stomach, low back pain, and poor posture. Occasionally there will even be tingling or numbness in the fingertips of one or both hands.

More obvious, but less severe TMJ symptoms include clicking, popping, and/or grinding (crepitus) in the jaw joint; tenderness or pain in the jaw joint; sore or painful muscles in the head, face, or neck; difficulty in chewing; fatigue of the jaw muscles after prolonged chewing or talking; limitations of the range of motion of the lower jaw; locking of the jaw in either the open or closed position; clenching or grinding the teeth; sensitivity of the teeth; nibbling or chewing on the inside of the cheek; and deviation of the jaw when opening or closing the mouth.