What Is TMJ And How Is It Treated?

Mar 15, 2024


Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. This blog will discuss its causes, symptoms, and the available treatments options available at Garden State Pain and Orthopedics.

Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Despite its prevalence, TMJ often remains misunderstood or overlooked. This blog will discuss its causes, symptoms, and the available treatments options we specialize in at Garden State Pain and Orthopedics. 


What is TMJ?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the hinge joint that connects your jaw to the temporal bones of your skull, which are located in front of each ear. This joint allows you to move your jaw up and down and side to side, facilitating actions like chewing, talking, and yawning. When there are problems with the muscles, ligaments, or discs that control jaw movement, it can lead to TMJ disorder.

What causes TMJ?

TMJ can have various causes, including:

  • Jaw injury or trauma: Direct impact to the jaw or head can damage the TMJ and surrounding tissues, leading to TMJ disorder.
  • Teeth grinding: Habitual grinding or clenching of teeth, especially during sleep, can strain the TMJ and surrounding muscles.
  • Arthritis: Conditions like osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis can affect the TMJ, causing inflammation and pain.
  • Stress: Emotional or psychological stress can contribute to jaw clenching or muscle tension, exacerbating TMJ symptoms.
  • Malocclusion: Misalignment of the teeth or jaw can put excessive strain on the TMJ, leading to dysfunction over time.

How do I know if I have TMJ? 

The symptoms of TMJ disorder can vary in severity and may include:

  • Jaw pain or tenderness, particularly when chewing or speaking
  • Clicking, popping, or grating sounds when moving the jaw
  • Difficulty or discomfort when opening or closing the mouth
  • Earaches or headaches, often radiating from the jaw
  • Facial pain or muscle stiffness, especially around the jaw joint
  • Locking of the jaw, making it difficult to open or close fully


How serious is TMJ? Is it a medical emergency?

Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) varies in severity from person to person. For some individuals, TMJ may cause mild discomfort or occasional jaw stiffness, while for others, it can significantly impact daily life and lead to chronic pain and dysfunction. The seriousness of TMJ depends on several factors, including the underlying cause, the presence of comorbid conditions, and how effectively it is managed.

While TMJ is not typically life-threatening, It can have a great impact on your daily life. Seeking timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment is crucial for managing TMJ symptoms and preventing complications. Individuals experiencing persistent jaw pain, difficulty chewing or speaking, or other TMJ symptoms should consult with a healthcare professional for evaluation and personalized management strategies. With proper care and support you can find relief from their symptoms and improve their quality of life.

How is TMJ treated? 

Treatment for TMJ disorder aims to alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and improve jaw function. Depending on the severity and underlying cause of TMJ, treatment options may include:

  • Lifestyle modifications: Avoiding hard or chewy foods, practicing relaxation techniques to reduce stress, and maintaining good posture can help alleviate TMJ symptoms.
  • Pain management: Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help alleviate mild to moderate TMJ pain. In some cases, muscle relaxants may be prescribed to reduce jaw muscle tension.
  • Dental treatments: Orthodontic treatment or dental appliances, such as mouthguards or splints, can help realign the jaw and alleviate pressure on the TMJ (Not offered at Garden State Pain and Orthopedics)
  • Physical therapy: Exercises and stretches designed to improve jaw mobility and strengthen supporting muscles can be beneficial for managing TMJ symptoms.
  • Injections: Corticosteroid injections directly into the TMJ can help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain for some individuals. (Including botox)
  • Surgery: In severe cases of TMJ disorder that do not respond to conservative treatments, surgical intervention may be necessary to repair or replace damaged joint structures.

How can Botox be used to treat TMJ? 

Botox, or botulinum toxin, has gained popularity as a treatment option for temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) in recent years. While traditionally known for its cosmetic applications, Botox has also shown promise in managing TMJ-related pain and muscle tension. At Garden State Pain and Orthopedics, we can inject Botox into your masseter muscle. It relaxes the muscle, provides pain relief, improves jaw function, and reduces teeth grinding. It also prevents headaches associated with grinding your teeth. The effects of the Botox last several months. 

We know TMJ disorder can significantly impact your quality of life, causing pain and discomfort that affect everyday activities. With proper diagnosis and treatment, you can find relief from your symptoms and improve your jaw function. If you're experiencing persistent jaw pain or other TMJ symptoms, you can schedule an appointment with one of our healthcare professionals at Garden State Pain and Orthopedics for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan. 


Do you have any questions about TMJ disorder? Let us know. You can email us at info@gardenstatepain.com. You can also see videos on our Botox injections on our TikTok @GardenStatePainOrtho.


Provider Spotlight: Dr. Jahnna Levy, DO

Dr. Jahnna Levy practices physical medicine and rehabilitation at Garden State Pain & Orthopedics, where her expertise contributes a vital component to each person’s treatment and recovery. As an osteopathic physiatrist, she believes in a multifaceted and holistic approach to pain management. She treats each person as an individual, formulating a systematic treatment plan to restore function, reduce pain, and improve their quality of life when they receive care at one of four office locations: Edison, Clifton, Hazlet, and Jersey City, New Jersey. 

Dr. Levy attended medical school at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in New York City. During this time, she became proficient in musculoskeletal medicine and co-founded the Osteopathic Orthopedic Organization. Upon graduation, Dr. Levy completed her internship at North Shore-LIJ Plainview Hospital and her residency in physiatry at the prestigious Rusk Institute at New York University Hospital in New York City. 

During her residency, Dr. Levy received extensive training at the Hospital for Joint Disease and was elected Chief Resident at both the Manhattan Veterans Affairs Hospital and Bellevue Hospital. During her fellowship, Dr. Levy was trained to perform a variety of nonsurgical orthopedic procedures and fluoroscopically-guided injections for neck, back, and joint pain. She’s also trained in spinal cord stimulator placement, EMGs, diagnostic musculoskeletal ultrasound, and percutaneous tenotomy for tendon injuries. Additionally, she received training in medical acupuncture and migraine management. 

Dr. Levy is board certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation and fellowship trained in interventional pain management and sports medicine. She’s an active member of the North American Neuromodulation Society, American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians, and American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Dr. Levy is a contributing author on Spine-health.com where she has written patient education content about spinal conditions and treatments. Her most recent pieces include: Common Causes of Back Pain and Neck Pain When she’s not working with patients, Dr. Levy enjoys dancing, traveling, and spending time with her family and friends




Address: 1117 Route 46 East, Suite 301, Clifton, NJ 07013

Phone: 973-777-5444



Address: 25 South Main Street, Suite 12, Edison, NJ 08837

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Jersey City

Address: 631 Grand Street, Suite 2-100, Jersey City, NJ 07304

Phone: 973-777-5444



Address: 226 Middle Road, Suite 4, Hazlet, NJ 07730 

Phone: 732-376-0330 


West Orange

Address: 443 Northfield Ave West Orange, NJ 07052

Phone: 732-376-0330