TMJ questions

I have TMJ, on the left side of my jaw. Occasionally, I can pop my left jaw-hinge, like cracking a knuckle. I also get earaches in my left ear about every 5-6 weeks, sometimes more frequently. My questions are, is the jaw-popping likely to cause any damage (I do it maybe once per week), and could the earaches be related to the TMJ? The aching occurs in the cartilage of the outer ear, not inside my head, if that makes a difference. And as far as I know, I’ve never had an earache in my right ear, which is why I suspect they’re related.

Thanks for any information, you wacky kids.

Yes, I have TMJ and i get sharp pains in my ear from time to time, and quite frequently have a tender cartilidge. Usually that happens when I sleep without my mouth guard. I’ve also been told my an ear nose and throat doctor that if i press in the area below my earlobe and feel pain there, it’s neither my ear nor my throat, but my jaw. Such is life as a TMJ-sufferer.

As for the popping, I am pretty sure it’s not the same deal as your knuckles. Your jaw has a little piece of cartilidge between the bones (ok so do all joints, right?) but popping your knuckles is releasing a vaccuum while popping your jaw is snapping the tendons and knocking around the already-messed-up joint.

Do you feel any relief when popping your jaw or do you do it just to do it? I can almost guarantee that if you asked any TMJ specialist (they are out there…) they’d tell you to cut that out before you made things worse. You could pop it one day, the cartilidge could slip and lock up the jaw, and you might have to have it forcibly removed. Ouch!