Among the most common, irritating and difficult to diagnose problems with head and neck pain are temporal mandibular joint problems, more commonly known as TMJ problems. The joint is located near the ear where the top of the mandible or lower jaw meets the upper jaw at the base of the skull.
Like all other joints in the body, the TMJ is subject to inflammation and other chronic joint problems. Many of these issues may be caused by destructive bite habits like clenching or grinding. These actions cause pressure on the joint that can lead to inflammation and general breakdown of the joint itself.
What makes TMJ problems difficult to diagnose and treat properly is the fact that the symptoms vary widely in both location and severity. Symptoms can range from a slight clicking in the jaw with no pain to severe head and neck pain which is not relieved by medication.
Once diagnosed properly treatments include everything from simple placement of a nightguard, which prevents pressure on the joint to surgical intervention in more severe cases. A dental health professional is the person most able to diagnose this widely variable and very common issue.
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