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Could Your Health Problem Be TMJ Related?

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Dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) can be one of the most perplexing medical problems a person could experience. It is not uncommon for TMJ dysfunction to be a source of pain and discomfort for months, or even years, before it is accurately diagnosed and properly treated.

Arriving at an accurate diagnosis of TMJ dysfunction is often difficult because so many of its symptoms are misleading to healthcare professionals. After all, the connection between the health of one’s jaw joints and symptoms such as vertigo, ringing in the ear sounds, and neck aches is not always readily apparent, even to experienced physicians. Even severe headaches can be attributed to problems with the TMJ, with at least one American authority on the neuroanatomy and neurophysiology of the temporomandibular joint claiming that all migraine headaches are TMJ related.

Because many of the symptoms of TMJ dysfunction are so misleading, patients often get bounced around from one healthcare expert to another while finding little or no relief. Often, the TMJ sufferer first seeks the care and advice of his or her primary care physician. When unable to reach a definitive diagnosis, the primary care physician may refer the patient to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist. After the ENT has found that both the ears and the sinuses are clear, an appointment with a neurologist is usually next in line for the patient. By this stage, medical expenses are really beginning to mount because of lab tests, x-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and possibly even nerve conduction tests, not to mention the physicians’ fees. The patient may even be referred to a psychiatrist because no organic source of his or her symptoms has been identified. As the patient becomes discouraged by the lack of answers from their previous medical consultations, temporary relief of symptoms may be sought from alternative health care providers like chiropractors, massage therapists, and acupuncturists.

Quality of life issues are yet another chapter in this sad story. The severity of the symptoms may reach a point where the patient is no longer able to fulfill the demands of his or her occupation. In some cases, the patient’s family may begin to doubt that these symptoms even exist because of the multitude of specialists that have been consulted to no avail. Despite valiant efforts to help the person suffering form TMJ symptoms, the patient often begins to feel both hopeless and helpless. Such feelings can actually make the symptoms worse in that stress is often a major contributor to TMJ dysfunction.

Unfortunately, the scenario described above is not that uncommon. One possible explanation for this is that most physicians view TMJ dysfunction as a dental problem and have little training in its diagnosis and treatment. Generally speaking, however, dentists also have a woefully inadequate background in the management of TMJ dysfunction, so the disorder tends to fall through a crack in the education of both dentists and physicians.

If you would like to view a complete list of symptoms associated with TMJ dysfunction, visit www.tmjhealth.com. There you will find a wealth of information on TMJ dysfunction, including a section on self-diagnosis. Also, you can read about the different types of headaches now shown to be associated with TMJ dysfunction. You will also find information about a quick and easy test called JVA (joint vibration analysis), a superb screening modality that is completely non-invasive and offers incredible diagnostic specificity.
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