Among the most common, irritating and challenging problems with head and neck pain are temporal mandibular joint problems, more commonly known as TMJ problems. The joint is located near the ear, where the top of the mandible or lower jaw meets the upper jaw at the base of the skull.
Like all other joints in the body, the TMJ is subject to inflammation and other chronic joint problems. Many of these issues may be caused by destructive bite habits like clenching or grinding. These actions cause pressure on the joints, leading to inflammation and a general breakdown of the joint itself.
TMJ problems are challenging to diagnose and treat properly because the symptoms vary widely in both location and severity. Symptoms can range from a slight clicking in the jaw with no pain to severe head and neck pain which is not relieved by medication.
Once appropriately diagnosed, treatments include everything from simple placement of a nightguard, which prevents pressure on the joint, to surgical intervention in more severe cases. A dental health professional is a person most able to diagnose this widely variable and prevalent issue.