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Unfortunately, it is not infrequent that the temporomandibular joint becomes damaged. More often than not, the damage is associated with the soft tissue components of the joint or the meniscus and ligaments. When this injury occurs, the disc (meniscus) most often slips forward of its normal position, thereby, stretching the ligament and pulling sensitive or highly innervated tissues between the articulating surfaces of the lower jaw and the skull.
This condition often becomes painful as a consequence of these sensitive tissues becoming inflamed and swollen. Moreover, as the disc becomes increasingly damaged, the individual may experience clicking in the joint as well as joint locking, as the disc malfunctions and becomes an obstruction to normal joint movements. Due to the aforementioned breakdown in normal anatomical relationships, this condition is typically called “internal derangement”.
Observe in this brief video a comparison between normal joint function and a joint suffering from “internal derangement.” Notice how the disc slips forward of the jaw during closure and then snaps back between the articulating surfaces as the patient opens. An audible click is often heard during this envelope of function.