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TMJ Pain: Causes, Symptoms & Topical Relief

Woman with TMJ pain pressing hand to jaw

What is TMJ & How to Treat It

Jaw pain and popping or clicking sounds when opening and closing your mouth are common signs of TMJ dysfunction, or TMD. TMD affects the joints and muscles that connect your lower jawbone to your skull. The disorder can be acute or chronic and linked to factors like arthritis.

Is facial pain or joint pain associated with TMJ affecting you? Learn more about the symptoms, potential causes, treatments, and how to use topical pain relievers like Doctor Hoy’s® for natural TMJ relief.


The temporomandibular joint, or the TMJ, is a jaw joint that acts as a sliding hinge to help with chewing, talking, and similar movements. There is one TMJ on each side of the face in front of the ears. The condition associated with TMJ pain in the joint or surrounding muscles and ligaments is called TMD, or temporomandibular joint dysfunction.

X-ray image of the temporomandibular joint on a skull

About 12% of adults have a TMJ disorder that can interfere with their daily routines. There are three categories of TMD including: dysfunction of the joint itself, chewing muscles, or resulting headaches.


Often, the symptoms of TMD are temporary. Still, some individuals may experience long term pain or discomfort when certain risk factors go unaddressed. Common symptoms of TMJ include:

  • Jaw pain or tenderness
  • Jaw stiffness
  • Jaw popping, clicking, or grating
  • Locking of the jaw with limited movement
  • Inner or outer earaches
  • Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Toothaches
  • Facial pain
  • Headaches, including migraines
  • Shoulder or neck pain

Man with jaw pain on the phone

Your doctor, dentist, or a TMJ specialist can test and diagnose whether you have TMD by noting your symptoms, performing a physical exam, and taking imaging tests. If you have jaw pain that will not go away or limits your jaw mobility, discuss it with your healthcare provider.

Potential Causes & Risk Factors

What causes TMJ disorders can vary by the individual. People with a jaw injury or chronic pain like rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis are more at risk. For many, clenching or grinding your teeth (bruxism) during the day or while sleeping as well as teeth that don’t fit together can also lead to TMD.

When the TMJ moves, cartilage within the joint as well as a small, shock absorbing disk help keep motions of the jaw smooth. Dysfunction can happen when the disk erodes or becomes misaligned or if the cartilage becomes damaged or worn.

Lifestyle choices and unhealthy habits can make TMD worse. This includes using your teeth to open objects, biting your nails, or chewing gum excessively. Poor posture can also cause pain by putting strain on your neck, shoulder, and face. Stress is a huge factor as it can lead to muscle tension, teeth grinding, and body inflammation.

How do I get my TMJ to stop hurting?

Your TMJ pain should go away on its own, but it can take up to two weeks. In some cases, chronic or long term TMD may require medical intervention or treatment. Conservative methods, therapies, and topical pain relief for TMJ can help relieve symptoms and stop your TMJ pain from hurting.

How Doctor Hoy’s Helps Relieve Joint Pain from TMD

Doctor Hoy’s natural topical analgesics can be used to relieve joint and muscle pain safely and effectively without toxins, parabens, or aspirin.

Our Natural Pain Relief Gel is FDA approved to help relieve symptoms of arthritis that may be associated with your TMJ disorder. It comes in an easy-to-use roll-on and squeezable tube and works quickly, creating a cool to warm sensation that soothes pain fast with a long-lasting time-release method.

Woman holding arnica cream and depositing it on hand

The best topical cream for TMJ is our Arnica Boost Recovery Cream, providing relief with no scent or sensation and it is safe to use in sensitive areas. Arnica Boost cream helps relieve pain from muscle spasms, soreness, neuropathy, and more while reducing inflammation that’s typically present with TMJ disorders. Apply it to the front of your jaw and behind the ear for safe, effective, and lasting relief.

Other Treatments

Doctor Hoy’s provides direct, localized relief and reduces the chance of drug-to-drug interactions and unwanted side effects. Natural topical pain relief for TMJ is a safe alternative to NSAIDs and other pain relievers, however these can still help treat the condition. Other treatments for TMJ disorders include:


  • Over-the-counter and prescription strength pain relievers
  • Tricyclic antidepressants that aid in pain relief, bruxism, and trouble sleeping
  • Muscle relaxants for TMJ muscle spasms
  • Corticosteroid injections in the jaw that ease muscle knots

Therapies & Exercises

  • The TENS method, which uses electrical current to relax the jaw muscles
  • Chiropractic treatment for TMJ to correct alignment issues in the cervical area
  • Oral splints or mouth guards
  • Behavioral counseling to address habits like teeth clenching, biting nails, etc.
  • Exercises that improve posture and relieve upper body tension 
  • Exercises for TMJ that stretch and strengthen the jaw muscles

Dentist fitting a patient for a TMJ mouth guard

Home Remedies

  • Massaging the jaw muscles and facial muscles
  • Hot and cold therapy using warm, moist towels or ice packs
  • Avoiding overuse of the jaw muscles by chewing less and eating softer foods
  • Relieving stress and muscle tension with relaxation techniques like yoga and deep breathing exercises

Woman having her jaw massaged


Surgical treatment is usually a last resort for TMD. Most TMJ pain can be relieved and prevented using conservative methods and lifestyle changes. Still, surgery for TMJ dysfunction is an option for more chronic or long-term cases. Surgical methods include a TMJ arthroscopy, mandible surgery, open joint surgery, and joint aspiration.

Use Doctor Hoy’s for TMJ & Joint Pain

Though usually temporary, TMJ disorders can make normal activities like eating and speaking painful. TMJ discomfort can lead to sleeplessness, headaches, and dental problems. Use Doctor Hoy’s natural topical analgesics like our Natural Pain Relief Gel and Arnica Boost cream for a safe and effective way to ease your symptoms.

Doctor Hoy’s does not diagnose or prescribe treatment for medical conditions. Our natural pain relief gel and cream can help mitigate symptoms of those with TMD and TMJ pain. Always contact your physician or healthcare provider for medical advice.


Mayo Clinic. (2018, December 28). TMJ disorders - Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic.

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders: Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention. (2021, June 21). Cleveland Clinic.

Patel S, Mauro A, Goldstein L. (2021, October 20) Topical Medications for Common Orofacial Pain Conditions. Practical Pain Management. 2018;18(5).

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