TMD Causes, Symptoms, and Solutions

TMD Causes, Symptoms, and Solutions

TMD Causes, Symptoms, and Solutions

Migraines affect over one billion people annually, causing pain that should never be considered normal. There are a wide variety of contributors to migraines and a surprising one is temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). If you experience pain or popping in the region of your jaw, you could be experiencing TMD. Read on to find out more about this disorder, the symptoms, and how you can find relief.

Key Takeaways

  • MD is a disorder that affects the movement of the jaw

  • There are multiple causes of TMD, and a variety of symptoms that can result

  • Physical therapy is a highly recommended solution, but there are some products that can also be used to help reduce the effects of TMD

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What is TMJ/TMD?

The temporomandibular joints (TMJ) make up the hinge that allows your jaw to move up and down. For most people, that movement is effortless, allowing them to chew, talk, and make facial expressions. The TMJ should be able to move side to side, back and forth, and up and down.

When popping of the jaw and pain occurs, that is when it becomes a disorder, and the acronym changes to TMD. TMJ refers to the joint, TMD to the disorder affecting it.

The Causes

TMD is often brought on by a traumatic event, such as a blow to the face or car accident that causes displacement of the articular disc in the joint. However, it can also be a very gradual process that takes place over time without being noticed. Contributors to that process can be forward head and poor posture, stress, muscle spasms, teeth clenching, and teeth grinding.

The Symptoms

Jaw Pain/Limited Mobility

The primary symptom and indicator of TMD is the popping of the jaw when you open and close your mouth, as well as pain. This can lead to an inability to open your mouth all the way, or difficulty in chewing and even talking.


While headaches and migraines are categorized as pain of the head, the source of the pain can originate from the jaw area. Due to the tension caused by TMD in the joint ligaments and muscles, more muscles in the head and neck can be affected, causing pain in those areas too, resulting in frequent headaches. When the tension builds too much, a migraine can occur.

Swallowing Challenges and Beyond

As the pain sets into the TMJ, the limited mobility that happens can lead to problems in daily life. This can include chewing and swallowing hard and tough food. TMD begins, then, to disrupt what you can enjoy eating.

If swallowing becomes an issue, other movements won’t be far behind. This can mean pain while talking, an inability to open your mouth wide, and even discomfort while smiling. If not addressed, TMD can affect the simplest aspects of your life, and make them unbearable.

Solutions that Can Help

Primary care providers and physicians often recommend physical therapy treatment for TMD. A physical therapist will be able to examine your TMJ and may be able to massage and adjust the joint to help the pain. There are also helpful exercises they can provide that you can do to improve the problem on your own.

There are also measures and products patients can leverage to help address TMD. When the cause of TMD is linked to teeth clenching and grinding, the solution might be as simple as purchasing a good mouth guard to wear while sleeping.

For options to avoid surgery and prescription opioids, Performance Health has a helpful article with resources for you to explore. Read The Opioid Crisis and Pain Relief Alternatives to learn more.

Posture correction is another way to help solve the problem of TMD. A leading product for posture correction is the SPINEFITTER. This innovative new product is a wonderful resource for neck, shoulder, and back pain. You can learn more about this product in another article, or shop the SPINEFITTER and its accessories on our website.

There are also resources that you can use to increase mobilization in the TMJ. Hot and cold therapy is a fantastic resource for just such a goal. Sissel offers a line of Hot and Cold packs that can be used in a variety of ways; whether to improve posture by applying hot and/or cold therapy to the neck and shoulders, or to relieve localized pain with smaller packs that can be applied directly to your TMJ.

Red Light Therapy is also growing in popularity for being used to increase joint mobility. The Fringe Red Light Face Mask has been developed to target the entire face, including the jaw and TMJ. The gentle, warming massage that this Face Mask offers will sooth the pain and over time reduce inflammation. Being wireless, it can be used anywhere, anytime, making it a very convenient tool.


TMD is a disorder affecting the TMJ that is characterized by pain in the region of the jaw and even headaches and migraines. There are many things that can lead to TMD, including poor posture and teeth clenching and grinding. There are many solutions that you can seek out if you are experiencing TMD, such as physical therapy, posture correction, hot and cold therapy, and red light therapy.



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  2. Anonymous. Physical Therapy Exercises for TMJ Disorders. BenchMark Physical Therapy.
  3. Sears, B. (2022, February 22). Physical Therapy for TMJ: Treatments, Exercises and More. Very Well Health.
  4. Anonymous. Incorporating Physical Therapy into Your TMJ Treatments. TMJ & Sleep Center.
  5. Grimshaw, M. (2020, May 26). Are You Aware of the Early Signs of TMJ?. Khun Dental Associates.

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