Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) are often very difficult to diagnose due to the variety of conditions it mirrors. A less-than-clear understanding of the causes and exact symptoms of TMD, as well as the surrounding muscles, healthcare professionals are often hesitant to diagnose TMD. Instead, they might diagnose a condition as something far different, but that fits the symptoms.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of TMD are characteristic of a number of other conditions, which makes diagnosis often very difficult. Some symptoms that might mimic the characteristics of TMD include: 

  • Toothaches
  • Sinus infection
  • Ear infection
  • Facial neuralgias
  • Myofascial pain
  • Headaches 

If pain in the jaw area is being experienced, tests will often be recommended to rule out or confirm the presence of any conditions, including TMD.

Finding the Diagnosis

When conducting an examination of a patient that is experiencing pain in the TMJ region, a detailed health history will be taken looking for any injuries, traumas, procedures or conditions that may contribute to the symptoms. Your temporomandibular joint will also be examined, along with the bones and muscles of the jaw, mouth, face, neck and head to note pain and tenderness, limited motion or locking of the jaw when opening, closing, or moving the jaw side-to-side. 

There is no standard, widely accepted test used to diagnose TMD, but there are several tests that might aid in the diagnostic process:

  • X-rays of the face, joint and teeth
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Computed tomography (CT)

While most cases of TMD cannot be cured, there are treatment options available to help prevent the worsening and pain. The underlying cause of TMD does not need to be known to provide quality care for a patient diagnosed with TMD. 

Contact Dr. Sara at AZ Sleep & TMJ Solutions in Scottsdale for more information on TMD and to see what is causing your pain.