Hello, for the past many months I have been suffering from extreme health anxiety and have had way too many symptoms, many seem like tmj. My question is, do you have to have jaw clicking and popping to have tmj? I can eat and chew gum without pain. Sometimes I will feel a pulling sensation in my face when I open my mouth, but if exercise it a few times, it will go away. I feel like anxiety it giving me extreme muscle tightness in my face, eye, ear, etc.. I don't seem to clench or grind, so is tmj ruled out? Thoughts?
Although you do not necessarily have to have clicking and popping to have tmj you could have muscular tmj meaning that your muscles are over worked ususally resulting from improper jaw position, malocclusion, grinding or clenching (which you say you don't do). Anxiety can also manifest the same type of symptoms due to involuntary tightening of the same muscles so you can't rule that out either. Only a tmj specialist can rule out tmj by examining you and your bite and doing a tomogram or MRI or ICAT.
The pulling sensation in the face though can be indicative of tmj as well a neck (c-spine) problem. a neuromuscular problem or central nervous system disorders.
Obviously it would be much easier and probably cheaper for you to try and get your anxiety under control either through relaxation therapies, biofeedback, massage therapies, etc. or even anti-anxiety or muscle relaxant medication. If this doesn't work and you continue to see the same symptoms or the symptoms seem to progress in intensity or you develop new ones, then I would pursue it more formally by ruling out neuromuscular or central nervous system problems and seeing a tmj specialist.
One dr I saw once said that most people have some form of tmj and it either does not present a problem as the body will adapt and/or correct itself or it is minor enough not to require treatment or disrupt their daily life. With that said while yes you may be experiencing tmj symptoms that your anxiety may be triggering or making worse - it may not be necessary to have it treated unless it does start to interfere with your daily likfe or becomes quite painful. So maybe reducing or controlling the anxiety will help the tmj symptoms lessen or ease up if not fully dissipate. Just a thought...however easier said than done - I know.