#18 You don’t have to be a Doctor to Diagnose TMD/TMJ

                You don’t have to be a Doctor to Diagnose TMD/TMJ

You read that correctly, “You don’t have to be a doctor to Diagnose TMJ/TMD”.  If you have read previous articles in this blog you will see that TMD/TMJ is actually not a very complicated disease to understand, diagnose and treat.  Unfortunately, home remedies, night guards from the dentist or the drug store, drugs of any kind, and wishful thinking are not going to get the job done. You are going to need a little professional help from either a general dentist, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, or Orthodontist for the treatment part.  That being said, you don’t need to be a health care provider to make an accurate diagnosis.

If you know the symptoms associated with TMD/TMJ and you understand the one common denominator that is present in each and every patient with TMD/TMJ you, the patient, can make an accurate diagnosis 99% of the time and distinguish the disparate symptoms that are very frequently confused with ear infections, migraine headaches, Meniere’s Disease and spinal and shoulder dislocations of various types.

The symptoms associated with any disease are only “red flags” indicating there is a problem, but are not the problem itself.  “Red Flags” are not the diagnosis.  They only indicate the direction and which road you need to be looking down.  That is why so called treatments for TMD/TMJ that only treat symptoms are not effective and do not solve the actual cause.  If you can be certain about the cause of a disease, and treat that cause to make it go away, you have successfully treated the disease.  This type of reasoning is logical and common sense.  Sometimes, even doctors, get so caught up in thinking a disease is complex, they miss the simplicity of what they are looking at.

Inflammation within the Temporomandibular Joint capsule is responsible for causing all the symptoms.  How this occurs has been covered in previous articles.  This has been shown to be the fact over 4000 times in our practice and verified in our independent university (MTSU) analytical/statistical study.

Good medical practice uses three modalities to confirm a diagnosis for any type of disease. 1 Patient History, 2. Physical Exam, and 3. Laboratory or x-ray studies.

The patient’s history will verify which of the symptoms are present.  “Red Flags”.  The more red flags present the more suspicious you should be that you have TMD/TMJ.

The symptoms of TMD/TMJ are:

  • Frequent or recurrent headaches of any type or location
  • Frequent or recurrent earaches
  • Pain that radiates down the back of the neck or side of the neck, or upper back pain and tightness
  • Jaw pain, one or both sides
  • Ringing in the ears,(tinnitus), a feeling of fullness in the ears (subjective hearing loss), and dizziness (vertigo)
  • Upper shoulder pain or tightness
  • Arm/hand/finger tingling, numbness, or pain
  • Inability to open the mouth widely. (Locking of the jaw of various types and amounts)
  • Strange and various noises from the temporomandibular jaw joints (Noise is a sign, not a symptom)

The more symptoms you have the more “Red Flags”

There are no laboratory or x-ray exams that can specifically see inflammation in the joints.  X-rays can show damage within the joints but can’t identify inflammation.

The easiest may to determine inflammation in any joint, hip, elbow, knee or TMJ is to push on or squeeze the joint with the fingers.

The definition of TMD is: One or more symptoms and a positive physical exam

The final and accurate diagnosis of TMD/TMJ can be done by a doctor or the patient themselves by following the video instructions at this link

(Link to “Self-Exam Video)

If you have one or more of the “Red Flags” of TMD/TMJ and doing this self-exam causes pain it is likely your symptoms are caused by inflammation of the TMJ, and you have TMD.

Of course, as stated earlier, you can’t treat the problem yourself and you will need a doctor to confirm the diagnosis and treat appropriately.

If you have symptoms of TMD and your self exam is positive, consider scheduling an appointment to see us.  TMJ Services of Brentwood is focused and dedicated to our proven non-surgical solution for TMD/TMJ.