Oral Surgery/tmj


QUESTION: does tmj cause dizziness and back pain? I've heard that it can. My daughter has TMJ. She has the dizziness and back pain as well as headaches, neck and cheek pain.

She has tried acupuncture, physical therapy, chiropractic, and wears a bite brace every night.

She's had TMJ for a while but I don't know if the TMJ is responsible for the dizziness, headaches, back and neck pain or not.

ANSWER: Joyce -  TMJ problems can manifest and cause symptoms in other areas due to a couple of different situations.  Inflammation and spasm of one muscle can produce similar situations in other muscles by a system of cascading.  What I mean is that where the muscle in spasm attaches to the bone, there are other muscles and ligaments nearby. These nearby muscles and ligaments can be forced into spasm at the attachment site of the original muscle in spasm.  This process can progress and spread to other areas.  This might be what your daughter is experiencing.  At the TMJ site, the muscles that attach there spread also attach to the neck, chest and shoulder and produce spasms of these other areas.  

Is this what is happening with your daughter?  I don't know, but you should seek an evaluation by a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon to evaluation your daughter's situation and determine if the TMJ might be the initiating site or is something else occurring.

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QUESTION: She has an appointment to go next week to see if that's what the problem is. In the meantime I was covering my bases to be sure I knew what I was talking about.

She also has a CPAP machine for sleep apnea.

Back in January, the hosp did a CT of her head and told us the muscles were all bunched up in her head. Is that part of TMJ as well?

Joyce - Of course I have never examined your daughter or even seen pictures of her, but with the TMJ symptoms, especially of the muscles and the sleep apnea, here symptoms usually indicate a discrepancy of the upper to lower jaw.  Usually these symptoms indicate a smaller than normal lower jaw compared to the upper jaw.  This discrepancy is one that produces the symptoms your daughter has.

Like I said in my last response, take her to a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon.  This is the appropriate doctor to evaluate the discrepancy as a cause of her symptoms.  That doctor is also the one who can evaluate and diagnose if a discrepancy of the jaw size and positions as a potential cause of your daughter's symptoms.

That is my suggestion.  If for some reason you cannot find an appropriate doctor, get back to me, tell me where you live and I will attempt to give you a list of appropriate doctors to evaluate your daughter.  If you know of one, let me know the doctor's evaluation.

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Joel S. Teig, DMD, Diplomate ABOMS, retired


I am a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon available to answer questions related to tooth extractions, implant insertion, facial recontruction, facial and oral tumor removal, TMJ dysfunction and various successful treatments, including surgery if all else fails, and occlusal discrepancy requiring orthognathic or jaw surgery.


Board Certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon practicing for over 20 years. Assistant Clincal Professor at State University School of Dentistry.

American Dental Association, American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

BA- University of Connecticut DMD-University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine Oral and Maxillofacial Surgical Residency - Roosevelt Hospital, NYC

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