TMJ or temporomandibular joint disorders may involve symptoms from the jaw joints themselves, associated musculature, tendons, or nerves. Symptoms might include jaw pain, restricted opening or closing of the jaw, jaw sounds, such as clicking or popping, or locking in the opened or closed positions. Sometimes temple headaches are associated with temporomandibular disorders.

Because the face and jaw are complex areas, there are also other conditions which refer pain to the face, jaw, or head, which could be causing or amplifying the symptoms. Thus, the term “orofacial pain” syndrome would be a more accurate description of symptoms in the face, jaw and head regions.

A thorough history, examination, and proper X-rays or imaging may be necessary to treat this condition.


  1. Facial or jaw pain, or headaches upon waking
  2. Temple headaches or neck aches
  3. Pain upon chewing
  4. Jaw catching or locking upon yawning
  5. Jaw locking closed or difficulty opening
  6. Jaw clicking or thud sounds upon various jaw maneuvers
  7. Feeling that the bite is off


  1. Consultation is always necessary to rule out other overlying factors or other conditions which can contribute to your head, face, or law symptoms. This will include dental and medical history, sleep disorder profile, family history, occupational and dietary history.
  2. Physical examination. This would consist of palpating or touching the muscles of your jaw, head, and neck, and listening to particular jaw sounds with a stethoscope or ultrasonic Doppler. Range of motion measurements are also performed.
  3. A variety of diagnostic aids may be necessary, such as screening panorex, transcranial X-rays, or MRI – magnetic resonance imaging, which shows clearly the soft tissues inside the joint, such as the cartilage, tendons, and muscles.

Once the proper diagnosis is established, a plan of treatment can be pursued, which can consist of simple home instruction, exercises, medications, relaxation techniques, a dental device to control clenching and grinding activities, physical therapy with posture training, and evaluation of any associated sleep disturbances.

Although arthroscopic joint surgeries are a treatment option, they are usually a last resort when all other therapies and causes of pain have been exhausted, and if there is underlying significant documented objective pathology in the joint not responding to non-surgical therapies.