The Types of Injuries that Can Cause TMJ Disorders

Nobody likes being in pain. Pain in the head or jaw can be especially annoying. At ProTouch, we treat TMJ disorders, which can result in both headaches and jaw pain. In this article, we will share with you the different types of injuries that can cause this disorder. Before we jump into that, we want to give you a brief overview of what TMJ is.

Your Temporomandibular (tem-puh-roe-mun-DIB-u-lur) joint (TMJ) is a sliding hinge that connects your jawbone to your skull. There is one joint on each side of your jaw. Temporomandibular joint disorders are a type of temporomandibular disorder or TMD. They can cause pain in your jaw joint and in the muscles that control jaw movement.

There are a variety of causes of TMJ disorders. Aside from genetics and arthritis, TMJ disorders can stem from an injury that you have sustained – for example, macrotrauma or microtrauma. Keep reading to learn more about macrotrauma and microtrauma.


A macrotrauma is defined as any type of major physical damage resulting from a single injury. Examples of a macrotrauma might include a direct blow to the jaw or whiplash from a car accident. A dislocated jaw, head injury or neck trauma is a result of macrotrauma. It is not unusual to see the onset of TMJ disorder after a car accident.

Here are some examples of macrotrauma symptoms:

    • Headaches and migraines
    • Aching or spasms in your jaw or facial muscles
    • Dizziness
    • Short-term memory loss
    • Painful grating, clicking or popping in TM joint when eating, chewing, yawning or making facial expressions
  • Ongoing jaw injury or pain in TM joints


A microtrauma is identified as minor, internal injury that is caused by repetitive behavior. Most people don’t realize, but the smallest muscle adaptation, if done repeatedly, can cause microtrauma. Unconscious habits such as jaw clenching, teeth grinding or excessive gum chewing, can result in microtrauma. The damage is done slowly and over a longer period of time. Unless the individual is aware of their behavior, they may not even know they are causing themselves any injury.

Here are some examples of microtrauma symptoms:

    • Chronic headaches
    • Muscle spasms in the jaw
    • Ear pain
  • Neck pain

In most cases, the pain and discomfort associated with TMJ disorders is temporary and can be relieved with nonsurgical treatments such as physical therapy. Surgery is typically a last resort after conservative measures have failed.

Physical therapy is one of the common and best methods to treat TMJ. ProTouch specializes in the treatment of TMJ disorder. Get in touch with us to learn more about our services or schedule a consultation to visit us at our physical therapy center located in Cranford, NJ, a few miles away from Westfield, Elizabeth and Summit in Union county.

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