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What Does a TMJ Flare Up Feel Like?

A woman sits on a couch while experiencing TMJ pain

Pain caused by a temporomandibular joint (TMJ) flare up can feel debilitating. That kind of intense discomfort in your jaw may make you feel like you can't go to work, take care of things around the house, or even simply lay back and relax.

Let's quickly review the basics of your TMJ itself and the closely related TMJ disorder. Then we'll take a closer look at what TMJ flare up feels like and, most importantly, how to address and resolve this problem.

What is a TMJ?

Your TMJ itself is the joint that connects your skull to your jawbone. It plays a crucial role in the normal function of the human body, from speaking to eating.

In casual discussions, the term "TMJ" by itself can also refer to temporomandibular disorder (TMD). No matter what you call it, these TMJ problems include everything from the mostly harmless, like clicking or popping of your jaw, to teeth grinding and serious pain and discomfort.

What is a TMJ Flare Up?

A TMJ flare up is a pretty simple concept, although it's by no means pleasant. It's the sudden emergence of pain in your jawbone, ears, and other areas near the TMJ.

More specific TMJ flare up symptoms include:

  • Constant or intermittent jaw pain
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Throbbing or piercing headaches
  • Ear pain, whether sharp or dull
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Jaw and general facial swelling
  • Muscle spasms
  • Tightness in the jaw

What Causes TMJ to Flare Up?

TMJ flare ups can vary from one person to the next. Common causes include stress, dehydration, incorrect posture, and issues with the neck muscles. Hormonal changes, certain medications, and Vitamin D deficiency can also cause a TMJ flare up.

How Long Does a TMJ Flare Up Last?

Penn Medicine explains that TMJ-related pain is often relatively brief, ending after a few weeks or months. However, certain habits can prolong TMJ pain. And, whether it's a short- or long-term issue, that discomfort can seriously harm your quality of life. That's why it's so important to see an expert in TMJ disorders and their treatment.

What Can Be Mistaken for TMJ?

General jaw or facial pain, headaches, and tinnitus are some of the broader symptoms that can stem from other causes besides a TMJ disorder.

This is another reason why working with an experienced medical professional is so important to address your TMJ flare up: Accurate diagnosis is key to effective treatment.

Find Expert Support and Care for Your TMJ Flare Up

Significant or consistent pain, tenderness, and general discomfort are all great reasons to address your TMD. Working with an established TMJ specialist can be your best path to a positive outcome, substantially reducing or eliminating TMJ flare ups.

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TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre of Raleigh-Durham

  • 1150 NW Maynard Rd, Suite #140
    Cary, North Carolina 27513
  • (919) 323-4242
  • Monday: 9am – 5pm Tuesday: 9am – 6pm Wednesday: 9am – 5pm Thursday: 9am – 6pm Friday: 9am – 1pm Sat - Sun Closed We always have someone to answer the phone from 9-5pm every day
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