I have a few questions about TMJ. I have not been diagnosed with it yet, but want to know if anyone has throat problems associated with TMJ. Let me tell you a little about my background. I have been diagnosed with LPR (a type of reflux into the throat) and am taking Protonix 2x a day, it seems to work well, but I have a sore throat most of the time. My throat feels swollen alot on the left side and sometimes achy on the left side. My ear feels clogged alot on the left side and sometimes burns inside. My ENT looked at it and said it was clear. I have never thought of TMJ as being a culprit for these symptoms but I found a website last night that stated these as symptoms for TMJ. I have over the past few years had the popping of my jaw every time I open and close my mouth, it is on the left side also. My jaw doesn't really hurt, but sometimes it feels like I want to rest it, if that makes sense. Kind of like if you blow up balloons and your cheeks need a rest, or if you have held your arms straight out for about 10 minutes straight and you just want to let them hang. Anyway, I also get pains in the front of my neck I guess it would be like a spasm or cramp, you want to rub it, but it feels like you can't get to it. Sometimes, it feels like I can't swallow on the left side. Also, I have noticed that my bite is off, my top 2 front teeth and my bottom 2front teeth do not line up, my bottom jaw is pulled over almost a full tooth width to the left (the side that pops). Also I do clench my jaw alot and have had 3 root canals on that side of my mouth. About a year ago I had a crown put on a tooth on the left side, no root canal on that tooth, but the tooth had cracked where the filling was. Anway, that crown is still sensitive and I have had it re-checked by my Dentist and he says the tooth is fine. My ENT did notice my jaw popping and asked if it hurt. I said it didn't so he didn't mention anything more about it. I can say that a week ago while in Church I yawned and felt and heard my jaw pop as usual, but then it did something else and it really, really hurt bad, it almost felt like something ripping. The pain subsided after a few minutes but I had never had that feeling before. I have had the jaw popping and the noise that goes along with it before, but until the last couple of years have I noticed that it is absolutely every time I open and close my mouth.
I have also had a scope of my throat 2x where the ENT goes through the nose into the throat, he said just looks red, chalks it up to allergies and LPR.
I also have anxiety and panic to top everything else off. I keep thinking that this throat thing is anxiety, but even days when I am not anxious it is still sore. Some days it is fine and other days it is horrible. Some days it feels like I can't swallow and other days it feels like nothing was ever wrong. I can't seem to pin it all down to anxiety, although I know it plays a part in this.
Sorry to be so long with this post, but any information I could get or advice if
anyone out there thinks this might be TMJ or not, I would truly appreciate it.
I am kind of curious - when were you diagnosed with the LPR - of which I am not familiar with - is it similar to a hiatal hernia or esophogial spasm?) - was it before or after the crown was done.
I have read other posts from members with sore throats - basically all I had and still do to a degree was a lump in my throat and difficulty swallowing - it felt sore but different than a sore throat due to a cold - more like it was dry and achey. So yes - it can be a symptom of tmj.
Not everyone experiences jaw pain as is often thought and not everyone experiences problems with their tm joints as is often thought. When tmj symptoms develop due to bite issues such as malocclusion (even a high or low filling can cause that) or clenching/grinding it usually causes muscle strain and produces that tired, fatigued feeling you mentioned about needing to rest your jaw, cheeks, lips or mouth/face in general. As the bite continues to shift - teeth and jaws no longer match up as they did and the jaw may tend to deviate which then impacts the tongue (it can become sore, achey, stays on one side or has problems functioning) and the neck muscles, if not the actual cervical alignment.
For many people tmj is probably the last thing considered when trying to nail down seemingly unrelated symptoms - many get treated for a host of other problems as the untreated tmj condition continues to progress.
It sounds like you may have an issue on the left side - the clenching, fractured filling/tooth (which was crowned) and 3 rcs all point to that side as having a bite problem - along with the facial/jaw fatigue. The best thing to do would be of course to see a tmj or neuromuscular dentist and be examined. But a word of caution: it is often difficult to diagnose and treat tmj symptoms that are of a bite or occlusion origin - even for some specialists in the field - so proceed slowly, ask a lot of questions and don't make any rash decisons in terms of doing anything permanent to your teeth. A good tmj dentist should first be able to resolve the symptoms (ususally with a splint or orthotic) and then decide how to fix the teeth to ensure the symptoms do not return - not the other way around.
Also, just one more thing, sometime cervical or neck problems can cause similar symptoms - the jaw and neck share the same muscles so a neck problem can impact the jaw - so you may also want to consult with a chiro. Most tmj dentists can often refer you to a good one.
Hope that helps a bit.
Last edited by Thelma-Louise; 06-10-2008 at 06:25 PM.
Thanks for responding so quickly. LPR is a type of reflux but it doesn't stop in the esophagus so therefore there is hardly anyone who has LPR that has heartburn. It is also called "silent reflux" basically the throat tissues are way more sensitive than that of the esophagus so the smallest amount of acid really wreaks havoc on your throat. You don't actually feel the liquid acid in your throat with LPR just burning, hoarseness, it can affect the ears, most of the time it doesn't get you when you lay down like with GERD most people who have it suffer during the daytime with it. Also you don't even have to eat anything to have it happen. It's crazy stuff. But, I actually was diagnosed with that before I got the crown.
I knew I had something wrong with my jaw because of the popping, but I didn't realize that other things may be associated with it. Such as I have been having a lot of blurred vision lately, some dizziness, a lot of ear fullness and burning on the left side (same side as popping) and what I call eyeball aches, or headaches where it just throbs for a few minutes then goes away. I just chalked it up to anxiety, but a lot of the anxiety is coming from the throat feeling crazy. I can handle the headaches, etc.. but when my throat feels funny, it sends me into a panic. I guess I have a phobia with that. Anyway the medicine I am on for my LPR works pretty good, but I still get these ear aches on the left side, and they come and go during the day, it isn't a constant pain like with an ear infection, then my throat feels funny on that side also, kind of like it might be swollen. I have also had the lump in the throat feeling, but it is interesting what you said about the dry throat, I have that all the time. I have gone to a Chiropractor not too long ago, my first and only time I have ever gone, he did an X-ray and said that my head wasn't sitting perfectly on my neck, it's a little to the side. I have never noticed nor do I notice it now, but he said it was nothing to worry about. I know my shoulders are always tense and my neck has been tense a lot lately. Normally it isn't but the past month or so it has been very tense.
I occasionally take Xanax for the anxiety and really only take it if I have a panic attack or feel one coming on. My Dr. told me to go ahead and take 2 a day if I needed to, but I like to think I have my anxiety under control. (ha-ha) But my friend said to try it 2x a day and see if my throat problems went away. Well, I did that for 5 days, just to see and it seemed I didn't notice them as much, but they were still there. I think what happened is I went through losing my job of 20+ years and that stressed me out, then that changed my whole life, I have always worked, now suddenly I am a stay-at-home Mom (which I love by the way) but I am not one to take to change very well, that is when all of this got really bad. I have had several aches on my upper jawbone since then on the left side, but I thought maybe it was sinuses, but that never seemed right to me, because my sinuses didn't feel clogged. I do have a habit of clenching my jaw. My very last bottom molar has had a root canal for the past 12 years now and sometimes it feels like it is aching, not the tooth really but the jaw bone, and then I notice the upper jaw bone feels the same. That is when I started thinking I must be clenching and not realize it.
I don't think that there are any specialists here where I live for TMJ. Would it be better to go to a Dentist or an Orthodontist?
What do they do to help it anyway, other than surgery? From what I have read surgery seems like a last resort.
Thanks in advance for any more info. I really do appreciate it.
If this is tmj due to a bite issue (which the clenching, root canal and broken tooth/filling, jaw pain and ear ache indicate), a splint or orthotic is usually custom made and worn for several months - it will help balance the bite and jaw which in turn should alleviate the jaw pain, eliminate the clenching and help the surrounding msucles relax. Once your symptoms are resolved the dr can then determine how to correct the teeth so the symptoms do not return - unless your teeth are crooked and mal-occluded or you have a severe over/underbite or open bite which would require orthodontia, it ususally involves building up certain teeth using overlays or crowns.
An ortho (if given the choice between regular dentist or an ortho) trained in FJO (functional jaw orthotics) and who treats TMJ would be good - also, check the Great TMJ Dr sticky post at the top of this forum as many members here are from CA and may have posted their dr names and locations - hopefully you will find one near you or close by. Not all tmj dentists label themselves as such - some prosthedontists and most neuromuscular dentists treat it too.
Sorry you lost your job - I worked for 20 yrs too and have been on disability for the past 4 yrs due to the tmj and my company only recently let me go formally after keeping me on a Medical Leave since 2004 - they just couldn't wait for me to recover anymore. But its hard to get used to staying home when that's all one did for so many years - its kind of like having to redefine yourself and who you are. I am sure the kids love it though. My mom used to work when I was young and I always thought it was such a treat when she was home for a day - although that was rare.
I know this is an old thread, but I just HAD to reply because I am having the EXACT same symptoms as you...and on the left side too! There's an "ache" deep in my throat, left side. But way down in there, not like a regular sore throat where it hurts to swallow. This pain just comes and goes, and seems to get worse right after eating or when my stomach is really empty. Also, when I get nervous. (I suffer from panic/anxiety too.) It's as if the normal throat/esophageal movements seem to aggravate this pain, as if there's some sort of "injured muscle" way back there on the left side. It also feels swollen on that side, I can feel it when I turn my head. When it first started, it was horrible, especially because the pain was in my left ear too. I also get clicking in my left jaw but there is no pain, just the click. Left side of my throat clicks too if I put my head down and swallow. That one really scared me.
Like you, my jaw feels like it needs to rest, but it can't seem to get comfortable. I lost a tooth on the upper right side (from grinding at night)and now my whole bite is off. I'm wondering if that's the reason, and now I'm feeling all the strain of it on my left side, since there is no tooth on the right side to take some of the bite pressure. When I look in the mirror, it seems like my left jaw hangs a little lower than the right. One night, I tried so hard to find a "comfortable bite" that I must've strained all my facial muscles (felt like I was smiling too much even though I wasn't) and then my jaw got so tense that I started hearing these crazy grinding noises in both my ears. I took a Xanax and then finally everything could relax again...and the grinding noises stopped.
About 3 months ago, I panicked because my left tonsil looked kind of "bumpy" and I noticed a salivary gland under my tongue (left side) looked swollen. So I drove like a maniac to Urgent Care because I had totally convinced myself I had some kind of throat/esophageal cancer on that left side, especially because of all the pain I was experiencing on that side as well. The doc was an older man and very smart, he told me I didn't have cancer and that the swelling, etc. was due to irritation. I should have asked him, "Irritation from what??" But I was just so happy that I wasn't dying, I sort of got caught up in the moment. On the papers he wrote, "Acute anxiety/Heartburn, follow-up with Dentist." He also sent me home with Xanax.
So in a nutshell, I'm thinking our symptoms are due to TMJ brought on by a misaligned bite and LPR. Yes, I feel stuff coming up on me after I eat, get a lot of white mucus in my throat, and have that bitter, vomitty taste wayyy in the back of my throat after I take a nap or lie down after eating. (Coincidentally, mostly on the left side.) I call what we have the TMJ/LPR combo.
Just wanted to let you know that there's somebody else out there who knows exactly what you're describing with these symptoms!! Hope yours have subsided by now.