Did you know a study in the journal Clinical Oral Investigation found that those with pain in the temporal mandibular joint (TMJ or jaw joint in front of your ear) were more likely to have neck problems? Another study in the JBR Journal of Interdisciplinary Medicine and Dental Science found that disorders of the neck and TMJ were significantly related to each other and treatment of one helped the symptoms of the other.
Your brain has a leveling mechanism in it for the eyes, meaning that it wants to keep the eyes level with the horizon. Now imagine that you have pain in your TMJ causing the muscles in the head and face to tighten pulling your head slightly forward. To keep your eyes level with the horizon, the muscles in your neck tighten to pull your head back. The opposite can happen with a problem in the neck causing the muscles in the neck to tighten pulling the head back thus making the muscles in the face tighten to pull it down.
Many people are unaware of this relationship which can lead to chronic pain because the cause goes untreated. For example, someone with chronic neck pain may need a mouth-guard when they sleep because their tooth grinding while they sleep is aggravating their neck. I have referred stubborn cases to dentists for mouth-guards which then improved their response to the adjustments. I have also received referrals from Dentists with stubborn TMJ patients that have neck problems.
If you have neck pain that is not responding some symptoms to look for:
1. Sore tight TMJ in the morning.
2. Clicking in the TMJ.
3. Locking of the TMJ.
4. Pain in the temples, worse after eating.
If you have TMJ pain that is not responding some symptoms to look for:
1. Neck stiffness or soreness.
3. Soreness in the shoulders especially worse at end of day.
4. Arm pain.
5. If you say I have the usual pain with stress.
As a Doctor of Chiropractic with additional training in TMJ dysfunction I am acutely aware of how important the TMJ is in neck problems. If you have questions about the TMJ and neck relationship schedule an in-office or phone consultation for more information by calling 925-210-8000 or clicking here.