Experiencing head or neck pain that is also affecting your ear? The cause could be dysfunction in your temporomandibular joint, or TMJ for short. TMJ dysfunction is a condition that affects the jaw joint and the surrounding muscles. Though TMJ dysfunction is often associated with jaw pain, the symptoms can affect other areas including the ear and neck. TMJ pain often leads to tension in the surrounding tissue. If you are experiencing TMJ dysfunction, it is important to understand the symptoms that might be affecting your ear. By learning more about TMJ dysfunction symptoms in the ear, you can act responsibly and seek treatment when you need it.
Common TMJ symptoms in the ear
- Ear pain — Ear pain is one of the most common TMJ symptoms in the ear. When an issue in one area of the body causes pain in a different place, it is called referred pain. Ear pain caused by TMJ dysfunction is typically an example of referred pain. The proximity of the jaw joint to the ear often leads to aching and sensations of sharp pain in the ear. For some people, the ear pain is a persistent experience. For others, it comes in intermittent bursts. Ear pain can also vary in intensity. Regardless of your pain’s severity, it is important to find relief. A physical therapist can work with you to develop a personalized pain relief plan as part of your comprehensive treatment.
- Tinnitus — Do you ever hear a ringing, buzzing or hissing sound in your ears? Hearing noises like these that have no external source is called tinnitus. If these noises occur frequently, they may be a result of TMJ dysfunction. Issues with the jaw joint can affect the nerves and structures associated with hearing. In some cases, this can lead to phantom sounds. Tinnitus can be disorienting and disruptive to your day-to-day life. In extreme cases, you may have difficulty hearing real sounds over the ringing in your ears. Physical therapy can help you address your tinnitus at the source.
- Chewing discomfort — Dysfunction in the jaw joint can make it harder to use your jaw. When you try to chew or talk, you may experience new difficulties. Your jaw might feel stiff and experience sharp pains when in motion. The discomfort in your jaw can radiate to the ear, causing more pain in that area. Many people with TMJ dysfunction experience sharp pain in the ear while chewing. To prevent this from happening, it is important to seek long-term treatment options. Physical therapy can be a great way to improve your jaw health and find lasting relief.
- Dizziness — Do you feel lightheaded or unsteady often? These sensations are often caused by TMJ dysfunction. If your TMJ dysfunction is especially intense, you may experience vertigo. Vertigo is a whirling sensation that can lead to nausea and loss of balance. These TMJ dysfunction symptoms might not seem like they are connected to the ear. However, they are frequently caused by inner ear imbalances. Dysfunction in the temporomandibular joint can disrupt the mechanisms of the inner ear. When this happens, the inner ear may have difficulty performing its role in maintaining balance. You might feel disoriented and dizzy as a result. Your physical therapist can help you address these sensations by targeting the source of your dysfunction.
- Popping noises — Do you hear a clicking or popping noise when moving your jaw? Unlike tinnitus, these sounds tend to be really audible. Irregular jaw movements caused by TMJ dysfunction can make abnormally loud noises. These noises are sometimes described as grating and typically occur when opening or closing the mouth. Hearing these sounds can be distressing. With therapeutic jaw exercises and joint mobilization, your physical therapist can help you find relief.
- Jaw locking — Jaw locking is the difficulty or inability to open your mouth. This may occur due to muscle tightness or joint misalignment among other TMJ-related problems. The TMJ symptom of jaw locking can lead to ear pain and pressure. You might feel like your ears are full and unable to be popped. The solution tends to lie in physical therapy. By addressing your condition, you can experience relief in your ears and your jaw.
Continuum Wellness can help relieve TMJ dysfunction symptoms in your ear
Noticing TMJ dysfunction symptoms in your ear? You can find expert treatment for your TMJ dysfunction at Continuum Wellness. Our team is committed to spending quality time with each patient and developing an individualized treatment plan. We make quality care and good outcomes our first priorities as we work to help you experience renewed ear and jaw health.