A number of problems related to the jawbone and the joint of the jaw are called temporomandibular joint disorders, since the jaw joint is medically referred to as the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). TMJ disorders can include anything from tension, malfunction to acute pain. Joints are an important part of the human body that join the bones together and enable muscles to move smoothly and flexibly.

TMJ disorders can cause a variety of different symptoms, such as sensitivity to loud sounds, difficulty chewing or moving the jaw joint and pain in the joint as well as in the temple, in the ear or in front of it and in the cheek, difficulty when opening or closing the jaw and unusual sounds inside the ear.

Quite a few people suffer from TMJ disorders, but only 5 per cent of the sufferers seek medical attention. Younger patients are more likely to develop TMJ disorders that are related to the muscles of the jaw, while older patients usually suffer from TMJ disorders originating in the joint itself.

The reasons of TMJ disorders are still unclear, but some factors are considered to increase the chance of developing one of these disorders, such as excessive workload to the jaw muscles, emotional stress, arthritis and fraying of the joint.

Normally, TMJ disorders and the discomfort they cause can be relieved by avoiding putting any pressure on the jaw joint, minimising stress and tension to the muscles, taking painkillers and undergoing physiotherapy. In very rare cases, if all other methods fail, the doctor may suggest a surgical procedure.

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