Diagnosing TMJ Disorders

When diagnosing TMJ disorders it’s important to take an orthopedic approach. This means evaluating every aspect of the jaw joint. The goal is to get the most accurate diagnosis.

Ultimately, physicians need to keep the anatomy of the jaw joint in mind. And they need to approach it like any other joint in the body. Doing this ensures patients only get the treatment they need.

Take an Orthopedic Approach to Diagnosing TMJ Disorders

The best way to diagnose TMJ disorders is to take an orthopedic approach. This means your physician should treat the TMJ like a joint.

Let’s say you’re experiencing knee pain, for example. Your doctor would feel your knee, take sans of it, and evaluate your range of motion. They would take the time to figure out what exactly is wrong with your joint. Only then would they offer treatment. And that treatment would be tailored to their diagnosis. 

Physicians need to approach diagnosing TMJ disorders the same way. The jaw joint is susceptible to the same diseases and damage as other joints in the body. We need to treat it the same way as any other joint.

The Process for Diagnosing TMJ Disorders

The exact process for diagnosing TMJ disorders will vary depending on your physician and your individual case. But most of the time diagnosing TMJ disorders involves:

  • Talking to your doctor about your medical history and symptoms
  • A physical examination
  • Getting scans of your joint

Tell your doctor about any medical condition like arthritis or past injuries. This information can help your physician get a better idea of what’s going on in the joint. Let them know about any orthodontic or previous dental work as well. If your bite has been adjusted by orthodontic work your jaw joint can be impacted, for example. 

Make sure you tell your doctor everything you can think of. Sometimes, things that may seem unrelated are actually helpful.

After reviewing your medical history, they’ll start the physical exam. They’ll feel your jaw as you open and close it. They’ll also listen for any clicking and popping sounds. The goal of the physical exam is to feel for any kind of misalignment in the jaw joint. While they’re feeling your jaw, they should also keep the anatomy of your jaw joint in mind.

Finally, they’ll need to get a better look at what is going on in your jaw joint with CT scans, MRIs, or X-Rays. These images will help them see exactly what is going on with your joint. They’ll take scans from multiple angles to figure out what’s wrong with your joint.

Anatomy and Diagnosing TMJ Pain

In order to diagnose TMJ disorders, you need to find a physician that understands the anatomy of the TMJ. Knowing how the joint is built and how it works allows them to find the cause of pain more easily. When they know how the joint is built and how it works they can deliver a more accurate diagnosis.

The TMJ is a synovial joint. Within the joint, between the jaw and skull, is a disc. The disc contains synovial fluid. Synovial fluid lubricates and supplies nutrients to the joint. Cartilage covers the TMJ. And a fibrous tissue capsule encloses the joint cavity.

The jaw joint is also made up of ligaments, tendons, and muscles. These all help provide stability for the joint. 

TMJ disorders may be a result of damage to any part of the joint. Someone who knows the jaw joint well will be able to figure out which part of your TMJ is causing your issues.

    Diagnosing TMJ Disorders

    The Right Diagnosis is the Key to TMJ Freedom

    Trying to live through TMJ pain is difficult. It’s even more difficult when you’re not getting the treatment you need. In order to get the right treatment, you need to get an accurate diagnosis. Taking the time to find the right physician saves you time and money. You don’t have to worry about treatments that don’t work. 

    The right diagnosis is the key to freedom from TMJ disorders.


    TMJ disorders – Diagnosis and treatment – Mayo Clinic. (2018, December 28). https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tmj/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20350945

    Gauer, R. L. (2015, March 15). Diagnosis and Treatment of Temporomandibular Disorders. AAFP. https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/2015/0315/p378.html

    Diagnosis of TMJ Dysfunction. (2021, May 10). TMJ Relief Clinic. https://tmjreliefclinic.com.au/tmj-dysfunction-or-tmd/diagnosis-of-tmj-dysfunction/

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