Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD or TMJD), also known as temporomandibular joint dysfunction syndrome and temporomandibular disorder among others, is an umbrella term covering pain and dysfunction of the muscles of mastication (the muscles that move the jaw) and the temporomandibular joints (the joints which connect the mandible to the skull). The most important feature is pain, followed by restricted mandibular movement, and noises from the temporomandibular joints (TMJ) during jaw movement. Although TMD is not life-threatening, it can be detrimental to the quality of life, because the symptoms can become chronic and difficult to manage. About 20% to 30% of the adult population are affected to some degree. Usually, people affected by TMD are between 20 and 40 years of age, and it is more common in females than males. TMD is the second most frequent cause of orofacial pain after dental pain (i.e. toothache).
Dr. Janet Travell, the author of “The Trigger Point Manual” and President JFK’s physician during his presidency, points to the uppermost joints of the spine and the neck muscle known as sternocleidomastoid (SCM) as the most likely culprits that induce vertigo. “Trigger points in the SCM muscle have been shown to produce all kinds of symptoms, including tearing of the eye, headache, sinus congestion, ear and jaw pain, pain with swallowing, and vertigo. The joints of the neck also have strong effects on the whole head region, with similar effects.”