Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) joint disorder may be an underlying cause of your unexplained neck pain. These disorders are often overlooked when trying to analyze neck pain, but they can be the main culprit.
When the jaw becomes dislocated, the surrounding muscles go into spasm – including the neck muscles. Symptoms of TMJ disorders can include neck pain, stiffness, wry neck, numbness in the neck, inability to turn the head to one or both sides, joint sounds during neck movement, and arthritis in the neck.
Neck pain from TMJ can be caused by degeneration of muscles, ligaments, and bone, or from congenital abnormalities in the joint. Disorders that include hypermobility can also lead to jaw dislocations and damage to the bone and ligament of the jaw. The muscles controlling the movement of the jaw can also cause neck pain by pulling the TMJ out of position and causing the joint to move incorrectly.
The muscles in your body work as a team – when the muscles in your jaw are not moving or working correctly, they can negatively effect the surrounding muscles such as those in your neck. The bones in your neck, especially the atlas and axis, are very involved with the muscles that are used for chewing, biting, talking, breathing, and head posture. If sore, tight muscles in the jaw are causing a tilt in the head and shoulders – the neck will compensate for that.
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms along with your neck pain, it may be worthwhile to see your dentist to check for TMJ disorders:
- Clicking jaw noises;
- Facial pain;
- Jaw pain;
- Tooth Sensitivity or Pain.
If you are experiencing neck pain and haven’t been able to get an answer to explain it, it may be worth looking into TMJ disorders to see if this may be causing your neck pain. The fix may be TMJ treatment.