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Dull, aching pain in the area where the skull meets the jaw (the temporomandibular joint) is a common symptom which may vary greatly in intensity. It is a pain that may radiate to the back or side of the head or down into the neck. Chewing, talking or any use of the jaw may increase the pain, as will excessive talking or yawning. There may be clicking, popping or grating sounds. The pressure around the head can be either tension-type or migraine-like. Vertigo, dizziness, and ringing in the ears are also complaints of this disorder.

While the symptoms are common in this area, the diagnosis of TMJ requires that there be a triad of symptoms including a painful clicking or popping of the joint, abnormal motion of the joint and disorders of the bite. Conservative treatment should be used including rest, heat, physical therapy, bite plates, and simple analgesics before aggressive therapy involving surgery of the jaw or the joint is entertained.

TMJ was the term formerly used for this condition, which is now called myofascial pain dysfunction (MPD) syndrome.

Compiled from articles in the National Headache Foundation Newsletter by Steven Mandel, M.D. and Daniel M. Laskin, D.D.S.

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