Dysfunctional temporomandibular joints (TMJ) can cause pain in so many different areas that you and your doctor could easily misdiagnose the problem. Radiant pain from a TMJ disorder (TMD) usually remains localized around the jaw, ear, neck, and shoulders. Sometimes, you can feel symptoms of TMD in your back or legs. BecauseTMD sends unpleasant sensations to several places in the body, you could receive a diagnosis of sciatica, which refers to multiple symptoms from a herniated back disc. How could your back and lower leg pain stem from your jaw and not sciatica? Dr. James Fondriest explains the symptoms and possible problems to help you better understand TMD.
The Temporomandibular Joint
Temporal bones on each side of your head are connected to the mandible, or lower jaw, by temporomandibular joints. The condyle, the round end at the top of your mandible, moves along a track in the temporal bone when you open your mouth. To make this motion smooth and absorb shock, a thin disc sits between the temporal bone and the condyle. Excessive stress to these components, or experiencing sudden trauma, can damage the joint and cause discomfort, including the following problems:
- Earaches and tinnitus
- Headaches and neck pain
- Blurred vision and dizziness
- In some cases, lower back pain and leg pain
Sciatica and TMD
Unless x-rays indicate that TMD causes pain, you could confuse other problems with TMD. In some cases, nerves irritated from TMD transmit pain to the lower body, specifically the inner thighs. For some symptoms of TMD that appear in less-likely places, you may consider sciatica as a cause of your radiant pain. Stress causes muscles throughout your body to tighten, which aggravates both TMD and sciatica symptoms. Muscle tension from stress tightens muscle groups in the lumbar region that connect to the neck and jaw, so sciatica could also cause TMD-like symptoms. Trauma-induced pain could come from either TMD or sciatica, so ask your doctor to examine your jaw for injury to help develop an effective treatment plan.
Talk to us to better understand TMD
Do you think that you have TMJ problems? Talk to Dr. Fondriest about his procedure for TMJ therapy. You can develop an effective treatment plan to stop body pain from TMD at our 60045 dentist office. Call (847) 234-0517 to schedule an appointment. We welcome patients from Lake Forest and North Shore suburbs of Chicago.