The temporomandibular joints (TMJ) provide movement for the lower jaw. Like other hinge joints (knee and elbow), there are ligaments, muscles, bones, synovial fluid and cartilage that work together for movement and function. This joint is unique because the position of teeth and bite can affect its function. Muscle tightness from stress can also cause facial pain.
Joint inflammation, arthritis and damage to the cartilage or bone can cause pain, swelling, clicking noises and loss of function. Treatments can range from merely using heat, ice, soft diet and medications to using a bite splint appliance, physical therapy and orthodontics. More involved cases may even require surgery to repair and reposition the contents of the joints.