TMJ disorders

Alternative Names

TMD; Temporomandibular joint disorders; Temporomandibular muscle disorders

Definition of TMJ disorders

Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders (TMJ disorders) are problems or symptoms of the chewing muscles and joints that connect your lower jaw to your skull.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

There are two matching temporomandibular joints — one on each side of your head, located just in front of your ears. The abbreviation “TMJ” literally refers to the joint but is often used to mean any disorders or symptoms of this region.


Symptoms associated with TMJ disorders may be:

Signs and tests

You may need to see more than one medical specialist for your TMJ pain and symptoms, such as your primary care provider, a dentist, or an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor, depending on your symptoms.


Simple, gentle therapies are usually recommended first.

Expectations (prognosis)

For many people, symptoms occur only sometimes and do not last long. They will go away in time with little or no treatment. Most cases can be successfully treated. Some cases of pain go away on their own without treatment. TMJ-related pain may return again in the future. If the cause is nighttime clenching, treatment can be very tricky because it is a sleeping behavior that is hard to control.


Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine and David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. Also reviewed by Jack D. Rosenberg, DDS, Advanced Dental Care, Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Rosenberg’s review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. – 1/10/2010

Skull of an adult
Causes of secondary headache

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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