TMJ/TMD is a complex set of symptoms usually involving pain around the jaw joints. There can be multiple etiologies:
Internal derangement within the jaw joint. Approximately 1/3 of studied populations have this condition with no significant symptoms. There may or may not be popping/ clicking or locking of the jaw with realignment of the jaw-joint structures during jaw use or not.
Muscle Spasm is probably the most common cause for TMJD and can be difficult to treat because of the effects that it can have, especially over a prolonged period of time. Muscle spasm may be from the neck and/ or jaw muscles. This may cause a problem remote to the jaw joints and refer pain to the jaw joints.
Chronic Stress is often a precipitator of the problem. Patients sometimes have symptoms after a rear-end car wreck. Often this is upper back-neck mediated.
The most accurate method to treat TMJD is to establish the most likely cause and then to treat it. Treatment may include just helping a patient to understand his/her problem; physical therapy; neurology referral; bite splint therapy or rarely (1% or 2%) involving surgery. Treatment of TMJD is often a team effort. Information may be found on a Web search under TMJ or go to the TMJ Association