[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
May 31, 1976

The Great Impostor: Diseases of the Temporomandibular Joint

Author Affiliations

White Memorial Medical Center Los Angeles
From The Temporomandibular Joint Research Foundation, La Crescenta, Calif.

JAMA. 1976;235(22):2395. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03260480015020

DISEASE of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is commonly undiagnosed or misdiagnosed because it mimics many different diseases and has such a wide variety of symptoms.

According to Nathan Allen Shore, DDS, in the October 1970 issue of Dental Survey,

The resultant syndrome, with its varied and seemingly unrelated areas of pain and muscle spasm, presents one of the most baffling diagnostic problems encountered by the dental and medical professions. Although it has been estimated that more than 20% of the population is afflicted with some form of TMJ dysfunction, the condition is misdiagnosed in a majority of cases. These patients belong to that segment of society who wander from specialist to specialist, seeking relief from nagging head pain.

In many of these individuals, the symptoms become self-limiting; in others, this does not occur. These are the persons who go from doctor to doctor with a multitude of seemingly unrelated symptoms.