One cause of facial pain that can be misdiagnosed or confused with
Trigeminal Neuralgia is a problem with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). The
temporomandibular joint is where the temporal bone of the skull connects to the lower jaw
(mandible). When you bite and chew, these joints on either side of your jaw sustain an
enormous amount of pressure.
Like all of your joints, your TMJ may develop osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other
inflammatory conditions. Most often, the cause of TMJ pain is a combination of muscle tension,
anatomical problems, and injury. Discomfort and pain may be temporary or chronic and often
goes away with little or no treatment.
Causes of Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction
In order for you to open your mouth and operate your jaw in the way that it should, your left
and right TMJs must work in unison. If the movement of both of these joints isn’t coordinated,
the disc that separates your lower jaw from your skull can slip out of position, and problems will
result. Dislocation of your TMJ may take place if your mouth is forced to open rapidly or too
In addition, muscle pain and tightness around the jaw can often come from muscle overuse as
a result of clenching or grinding the teeth brought on by psychological stress or overuse.
Extreme jaw clenching can also lead to pain over the temples. Excessive gum chewing or
forceful biting, such as cracking nuts in your teeth, may also strain the TMJs and cause pain.
Symptoms of Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction
a clicking sound or grating sensation on opening the mouth or chewing
dull aching pain in front of the ear
headaches that don’t respond to the usual medical treatment
locking of the joint, making it difficult to open
tenderness of the jaw muscles
The pain will often occur only on one side of the face, and sometimes the pain may seem to
occur near the joint rather than in it.