Approximately 25% of the U.S. population has some variation of TMJ disorder. The majority of those are women of childbearing age. Most people who have TMJD go undiagnosed since their symptoms often mimic other conditions (such as migraines). Unfortunately, doctors often provide treatments that only address symptom control and do not correct the problem itself.
The most common symptom of TMJD is pain. The pain often begins as a mild ache in or near the jaw joint, ear, temple area, neck, and shoulders, and worsens over time as the actual structure of the joint can become damaged. Other signs include jaw, neck, and facial muscle stiffness or tension, a limited range of motion or "locking" of the jaw, painful popping or clicking in the jaw joint, ear pressure or pain, hearing problems, dizziness and vision problems.
Chronic moderate to severe headaches are a major symptom of TMJ disorder. Headaches that are focused behind the eyes, near the temples, around the jaw and ears, or at the back of the head in the area of the neck and shoulders are generally TMJ-related, as is generalized severe pain affecting the entire head and/or neck.
Occasional discomfort of the jaw joint or muscles is not uncommon and is not usually cause for alarm. However, severe pain that doesn't go away on its own over time or by treatment with over-the-counter pain relievers should be examined by a doctor. Speak with your doctor or dentist about your symptoms and how they relate to the possibility of TMJD. There is currently no standard test for diagnosing TMJD. A doctor will examine your head, face, neck, and jaw, consider your symptoms, may provide tests to rule out other possible causes, and can provide useful information and advice. A diagnosis may not be possible until every other possibility has been rejected.