TMJ Ear Symptoms

You need your TMJ or temporomandibular joint in order to move your jaw for talking, chewing and swallowing.  The TMJ is located on either side of the face just in front of the ear. Its purpose is to connect the mandible or jaw bone to the temporal bone, which is part of the skull.

The joint is a ball and socket type of joint that has cartilage in it to make the joint move more smoothly. Unfortunately, this cartilage can become damaged from overuse or from an injury, leading to TMJ ear symptoms and symptoms related to your mouth or teeth.

Common Symptoms of TMJ Joint Dysfunction

You’d be surprised to learn that there are many symptoms associated with the temporomandibular joint when it becomes injured or worn down.  Here are some common TMJ ear symptoms:

Popping or Clicking sound in your ear. This can be felt and heard by you as you move your jaw around in the act of talking or chewing.  The popping or clicking sound can be from bone rubbing on bone or from debris in the joint from degenerated cartilage.

Jaw pain, especially in front of the ear. If you have TMJ dysfunction on just one side of your face, you will feel it just on that side. Most people, however, have TMJ symptoms on both sides of their face and the pain will be bilateral.

Pain in the ear. You can have pain that you swear is from something in your ear when, in fact, it is referred pain from the temporomandibular joints.  It can also be associated with a cracking sound in your ear from bone on bone rubbing together within the joint.

Tinnitus of the ear. You can have ringing in your ear because the temporomandibular joint is so close to the ear. It can be unilateral or bilateral, depending on which joints are affected.

Popping or fullness of the ear. You can feel as though you have just gone swimming and need to clear the fluid out of your ear but nothing seems to do the trick.  This is because there really isn’t any fluid in the ear and the full sensation is from the inflammation of the joint near the ear.

Tension-type Headaches. The muscles around the temporomandibular joint can become inflamed and can spasm, leading to nearby muscles also becoming tense and inflamed. You experience this inflammation as a headache across the forehead.  You treat this kind of headache exactly like a regular tension headache by taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen or naproxen sodium.

Blurry vision. No one knows why your vision can become blurry from TMJ syndrome and yet this is a common symptom.  The TMJ is located not far from the eye and there can be tension and inflammation in the extra-orbital muscles so that they go into spasm, resulting in soreness of the eyes and blurry vision.

Tight or sore neck muscles. All of the muscles of the face are intricately connected so that, when one set of muscles become inflamed, the rest of the muscles nearby can become inflamed as well. Just the tension from the TMJ pain can stiffen your neck muscles, making them stiff and sore.

Facial pain and chin numbness of tingling. The inflamed muscles can also affect the nerves that supply the muscles so that you feel paresthesias or tingling sensations of the muscles of the face.

Locking or dislocation of the jaw itself. This usually happens when you open your mouth wide for yawning or to put large bits of food in the mouth. The jaw can lock open and may need to be treated in the emergency room to relocate the jaw.

A lump in the area of the temple. The joint can swell so that, instead of a non-painful joint, you experience an inflamed joint that can increase in size so you feel a palpable lump where the joint is located.

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