Common Symptoms of TMJ


You probably don’t think about your temporomandibular joint very often, if ever, but it’s the amazing joint that helps your jaw move up and down and side to side. This hinge-like joint is situated on both sides of your head, right in front of your ears. It connects your jaw to your skull and allows you to chew, speak, and yawn. 

Like any intricate machine, if a part of the system is strained or damaged, it can lead to far-reaching dysfunction. Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), is commonly referred to as TMJ, and it can cause discomfort in many forms.

Symptoms of TMJ are sometimes similar to symptoms of other conditions, resulting in delayed diagnoses or misdiagnosis. It is highly important that you consult an experienced dental professional if you think you have TMJ. Dr. John Phelps has worked with TMJ patients in the Indianapolis area for over 25 years. He knows what to look for and how to treat this debilitating condition.


The effects of TMJ will vary from one patient to another. The disorder and its symptoms may affect one or both sides of the jaw.

TMJ can be difficult to diagnose as symptoms may not be limited to the jaw. If the muscles in your jaw become strained, or if your joint becomes misaligned because of injury, you may experience a combination of the following symptoms affecting your jaw, ears, face, head, and body.


As you might expect, TMJ can affect the jaw in various ways, including:

  • A clicking or popping sound in the jaw
  • Tendency of the jaw to become stuck or locked when open
  • Noticeable bite misalignment when you chew or rest your jaw
  • Pain when you open your mouth or chew
  • Stiffness


TMJ is frequently misdiagnosed as an ear infection. Your ears are in such close proximity to the joint that TMJ-related inflammation can travel into the ear and cause discomfort in the form of:

  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Ear pain when you open your mouth or chew
  • Aching
  • Hearing issues


The strain of jaw misalignment can significantly affect your face. You may experience:

  • Facial swelling
  • Aching
  • Facial pain when chewing or opening your mouth
  • Tenderness
  • Sensation of tiredness
  • Minor spasms of facial muscles


Inflammation caused by TMJ often radiates out and presents as head-related conditions like:

  • Chronic tension headaches that do not respond to normal treatment options
  • Dizziness
  • Sensation of uncomfortable pressure
  • Generalized pain


When the joint isn’t working properly, muscles, tendons, and nerves in the face can’t work normally. This can lead to a domino effect where muscles in other parts of the body are forced to function irregularly too. The following symptoms in the body may be related to TMJ:

  • Pain in the shoulders or upper back
  • Neck pain
  • Tingling in the chest, neck, or arms
  • Poor posture

Contact Us for TMJ Relief

If you are suffering with a combination of these symptoms, do not wait to seek treatment. The disorder is treatable and many or all of your symptoms can be resolved. Dr. Phelps is dedicated to correctly diagnosing your unique set of symptoms and finding an effective treatment plan to relieve your pain. 

Contact us at 317-548-6217 to schedule an appointment at our Indianapolis office. We are proud to serve Carmel, Noblesville, and the Greater Indianapolis area.

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