How to Tell the Difference Between TMJ and Trigeminal Neuralgia
When you experience pain, it can sometimes be difficult to tell exactly what’s wrong. This is especially true when it comes to chronic pain conditions that seemingly don’t have one known cause. Two of the most painful chronic conditions are Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMJ) and trigeminal neuralgia (TN). With both of these conditions causing pain in the facial area, determining a correct diagnosis can sometimes be difficult. So this article is going to explore a few key differences between these two conditions.
Symptoms of TMJ
TMJ is a condition that mainly focuses on the jaw area. There is a small disc that allows the jaw joint to move and when this disc becomes displaced, it can cause extreme pain, leading to a TMJ diagnosis. Common symptoms of TMJ may include clicking or crackling sensations in the jaw, locking of the jaw, frequent headaches, muscle spasms, pain in the face, ear, and jaw, and difficulty chewing. People who have TMJ may have difficulty closing their mouth all the way and they may experience more pain when chewing hard foods. TMJ can also stem from nerve damage and can sometimes be difficult to diagnose. All in all, TMJ is a chronic pain condition that can be treated by dental work or even electrical neural stimulation.
Symptoms of Trigeminal Neuralgia
A trigeminal neuralgia diagnosis is generally a very difficult diagnosis to make. There is no one known cause of TN, meaning there is no easy test to help diagnose the condition. But this condition generally stems from damage to the trigeminal nerve, which results in nerve pain. With there being 43 different pairs of nerves connecting the central nervous system to the rest of the body, nerve damage can often be detrimental. When the trigeminal nerve is damaged or aggravated, it can cause extremely sharp shock-like pain throughout the face, cheek, or jaw. TN patients also may experience numbness or tingling in their face and bouts of pain can be triggered by something as minimal as touching the face.
Because they affect similar areas, these two conditions often get confused. But treatment for trigeminal neuralgia and TMJ continues to be developed to offer sufferers relief from pain. If you suspect you may have one of these conditions, talk to your doctor about the diagnosis and treatment for trigeminal neuralgia and what options may be best for you.