The temporomandibular joint is a set of two hinge joints, one each side of the jaw, that connect the jawbone (mandible) to the skull (temporal bone). Included in this joint are muscles and ligaments that work together with the joint helping it to move backward, forward, and side to side. They allow for necessary, complex movements such as eating, speaking, yawning, and swallowing.
A disorder of this joint is called “Temporomandibular Joint Disorder,” most commonly abbreviated as “TMJ.” It is also sometimes called “Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction” (TMD) or “Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome.” Often associated with this disorder are symptoms such as: “locking” of the jaw, inability to open or close the mouth properly, headaches, chewing difficulty, popping sensations, cramps, spasms and jaw pain. The cause of TMJ is sometimes difficult to determine but may be due to a combination of factors as well, such as: injury to the jaw, arthritis, genetics, dislocation, tooth and jaw alignment issues, stress and teeth grinding, etc. Those with connective tissues disorders, such as Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, are more prone to disorders of the temporomandibular joint.