Maxillofacial - Huntington
7 High Street, Ste 308
Huntington , NY 11743

Disorders of the Temporomandibular Joint

TMJ Is Not A Disease

TMJ is the abbreviation for the name of the jaw joint(s), temporomandibular joint. Pain in this joint is generally felt just in front of the outside opening to the ears(s). The most common causes of pain in this area are muscle spasm, joint dysfunction or joint failure.

Disorders That Cause Pain in the TMJ Area

  • Muscle Spasm
  • Joint Dysfunction
  • Joint Failure


Muscle Spasm - is not a joint disease but can refer pain to the TMJ area. Pain radiates over muscles that are in spasm. It is generally readily distinguishable from joint dysfunction or failure and is treated non-surgically.

Joint Dysfunction - an internal derangement of the joint, usually a disc disorder. Can cause pain in front of ear, clicking or popping, inability to open wide or opening too wide. Requires an MRI for diagnosis. Many disc problems are treatable with arthroscopic surgery, a minimally invasive procedure.

Joint Failure - Usually the result of long standing arthritis of some type. Trauma (non-repairable fractures) and tumors can also be a cause of joint failure. Symptoms include pain in the TMJ area, noises such as grating, poor range of motion of the lower jaw and severe bony changes on imaging. Bone changes are best seen on a CT scan. Treatment is with total joint replacement as with hips and knees.