TMJ (Temporomandibular joint) disorders, known as TMD, can cause a wide range of symptoms in the jaw and face, including pain, stiffness, and clicking or popping sounds. However, many people are surprised to learn that TMD can be associated with neck pain. In this blog post, we’ll explore the relationship between TMJ disorder and neck pain, including common causes and potential treatment options.
What is TMJ?
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a hinge joint that connects your jawbone to your skull. This joint allows you to move your jaw up and down and side to side, which is necessary for everyday activities like eating, talking, and yawning. When the muscles, bones, and ligaments that make up this joint become inflamed or damaged, it can lead to a condition known as TMD (TMJ Disorder).
TMD can cause a range of symptoms, including:
- Pain or tenderness in the jaw joint, face, neck, or shoulders
- Difficulty or discomfort when chewing, talking, or opening your mouth wide
- Clicking, popping, or grating sounds when you move your jaw
- Stiffness or limited mobility in the jaw joint
- Swelling or inflammation around the jaw joint
The exact cause of TMD is not always clear, but several factors can contribute to the development of this condition. These include:
- Injury or trauma to the jaw joint or muscles
- Arthritis or other joint conditions
- Teeth grinding or clenching
- Poor posture or muscle tension in the neck and shoulders
- Stress and anxiety
- The Relationship Between TMJ and Neck Pain
TMJ disorder can cause neck pain in some individuals
This is because the muscles that control jaw movement and the muscles in the neck are closely related and interconnected. When the jaw joint is not functioning correctly due to TMJ disorder, it can cause the muscles in the neck to become overworked and strained, leading to pain and discomfort.
The neck pain associated with TMJ disorder can vary in intensity and may be felt on one or both sides of the neck. The pain may be a dull ache, a sharp pain, or a throbbing sensation. The pain may also be accompanied by stiffness or limited range of motion in the neck.
Other factors that can contribute to neck pain in individuals with TMJ disorder include poor posture, stress, and tension. When the muscles in the neck are already strained and overworked due to TMJ disorder, poor posture or stress can exacerbate the symptoms and lead to more neck pain.
TMJ disorders after car accidents and other injuries to face & head
An injury to TMJ can be associated with whiplash during a car accident or a fall or any injury to face and head. In a good percentage of people who suffer a concussion due to a fall, there is a neck and TMJ injury as well that requires medical attention.
In some cases, neck pain may be a symptom of a more severe TMJ disorder, and it is important to seek medical attention if you experience persistent or severe neck pain or any other symptoms associated with TMJ disorder. A healthcare professional, such as a dentist or a physiotherapist, can help diagnose and treat TMJ disorder and any associated symptoms, including neck pain.
Physiotherapy can be an effective treatment option for TMJ
A physiotherapist can use a variety of techniques to help relieve pain, improve jaw mobility, and strengthen the muscles around the TMJ. Here are some ways physiotherapy can help TMJ:
- Stretching and relaxation techniques: A physiotherapist can teach you stretching and relaxation techniques that can help to reduce muscle tension and pain in the jaw, neck, and shoulders.
- Manual therapy: This involves the use of hands-on techniques such as massage, mobilization, and manipulation to improve the mobility of the joint and surrounding tissues.
- Exercises: A physiotherapist can prescribe exercises to improve the strength and coordination of the muscles around the jaw joint. These exercises can help to improve jaw function and reduce pain.
- Posture correction: Poor posture can contribute to TMJ pain. A physiotherapist can help to correct your posture and teach you how to maintain good posture to prevent further strain on the TMJ.
- Acupuncture can also be used by a physiotherapist to reduce pain & joint inflammation and release the tense muscles of the neck and face.
- Education: A physiotherapist can provide education on TMJ and help you to understand the condition better. They can also provide advice on lifestyle modifications, such as avoiding hard foods, to prevent aggravation of symptoms.
If you’re experiencing TMJ and neck pain, it’s essential to see a healthcare professional who can diagnose your condition and recommend the best treatment options for you. With the right care, most people with TMJ can find relief from their symptoms and improve their quality of life. Call 416-444-4800 to book a free consultation.