TMJ problems after a cold?
January 10, 2012 7:19 AM   Subscribe

I had a flu/cold a week or so ago and now my TMJ is killing me. Could they be related?

I've had a clicking in my jaw for probably close to 15-20 years now, and it's only rarely been painful, but every since this cold, opening my mouth all the way has been really painful. A couple of days ago, it was more popping then clicking and it felt like it was sleeping out of joint, but for the last day or so, it's just been more tightness than pain, and my jaw doesn't really want to open wide enough to eat, say, a large sandwich.

Aspirin seems to help quite a bit.

Is this something that might be related to the cold I had, and if so, is it something I should wait a few days to see if it keeps getting better, or should I go see a doctor? It's such a sudden change that it seems weird that I would all of a sudden need surgery for it, when i've had the clicking thing for 20 years with seemingly no progression up until then...
posted by empath to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
gah, typos: *(ever since this cold) *(slipping out of joint)
posted by empath at 7:19 AM on January 10, 2012

Theories: Cold affected your ENT system and caused you to shut your mouth more tightly during the night. Flu caused inflammation around your jaw that is pushing it out of place easier. Stress from being sick causing grinding during night. I'd wait and see if it clears up to it's 'normal' level for at least a week or two more
posted by MangyCarface at 7:29 AM on January 10, 2012

You might have a sinus infection. Sinus infections cause jaw pain.
posted by Feel the beat of the rhythm of the night at 7:45 AM on January 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

This may be a long shot, but I have had TMJ issues sometimes when I get congestion that involves my eustachian tubes. I found that I was moving my jaw in an unusual way to try to "pop" my ears & balance the pressure, and that was what started the problem.
posted by gimli at 7:46 AM on January 10, 2012

I don't have "official" TMJ but I do have very occasional clicking and when I can't breathe through my nose I definitely get a lot of tension in my jaw (I assume from holding my jaw in weird positions so that I can breathe). I would give it another few days.
posted by mskyle at 7:59 AM on January 10, 2012

Was your nose stuffy when you had your cold? If so, you may have been breathing through your mouth when you slept. The different jaw position may have aggravated your TMJ. If it is painful, I think you should give your dentist a call.
posted by zoetrope at 8:01 AM on January 10, 2012

I was going to suggest a sinus infection. Once, I was sure my TMJ was acting up, but it was really a sinus infection that was causing jaw/teeth pain.
posted by pyjammy at 1:33 PM on January 10, 2012

I agree with zoetrope, a dentist would be the doctor to go to if it's a TMJ problem -- they can inject the affected area with a muscle relaxant or numbing agent to deal with the immediate pain, and give you instructions on the aftercare. I know my mother had it done once when she had a flare-up years ago; I'm afraid I can't remember the details of what the injection was but I remember that it worked for her.

(IANYD, so, no idea whether you've got a sinus infection vs TMJ vs something else, but I just wanted to point out that there are non-surgical solutions for TMJ if that's worrying you. As far as I know, surgery is the last resort for TMJ problems since it can be kind of a crapshoot. I had jaw surgery and I've still got TMJ wonkiness side effects, even though the surgery itself was successful in fixing what it was supposed to fix.)
posted by oh yeah! at 8:10 PM on January 10, 2012

So, in case anyone cares, it's mostly fine now. Back to sporadic clicking and no pain. Also, my cold is finally gone.
posted by empath at 6:06 PM on January 15, 2012

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