Neck pain is one of the most common symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorder (also known as TMJ or TMD), a common and frequently misdiagnosed condition often related to bite conditions or misaligned teeth.
These problems can put undue stress on the joints, muscles and bones concentrated in the small area where your temporomandibular joint connects your lower jaw to your skull. Because the symptoms of TMJ, including neck pain, are often shared with other conditions, a consultation with experienced Columbus physiologic dentist Dr. Michael Firouzian can help determine if TMJ is the source of your pain and help formulate a treatment plan to ease the chronic discomfort associated with TMJ.
The Connection between TMJ and Neck Pain
Because there are so many daily factors that can lead to neck pain, few people make the connection between misaligned teeth or bite conditions and nagging neck pain without the help of a physiologic dentist.
A “bad bite” causes an imbalance in the functional relationship between your jaw and skull. This imbalance forces additional strain on your joints and muscles. The muscles in your jaw partner with those in your neck to help balance your head atop your neck and maintain the alignment of your neck vertebrae. Additional strain on the jaw muscles can be passed on to your neck muscles, causing them to become sore.
Overactive and tense muscles can also put pressure on nearby nerves, which can cause shooting pain in your face, neck, shoulders and back. Pressure on nerves can also be caused by neck vertebrae being pulled out of alignment by a misaligned jaw.
Do You Have TMJ?
The only way to know for sure if TMJ is responsible for your neck pain is to be evaluated by a TMJ dentist but there are many signs that you should see a dentist for your neck pain.
You should see a dentist if you have other TMJ symptoms besides neck pain, such as:
- Regular headaches
- Face, shoulder and back pain
- Jaw tension/pain
- Jaw clicking/popping
- Jaw locking/sticking
- Earaches/ringing ears (tinnitus)
- Difficulty chewing/swallowing
- Numbness/tingling in the hands and fingers
Another sign that you might have TMJ is if you’ve been receiving treatment for your neck pain that has proven ineffective. You should see a dentist if your have been given multiple different diagnoses about the cause of neck pain, but none fit all your symptoms.
Fortunately, if you do have TMJ there are a number of TMJ treatment options available.
If you would like to learn more about TMJ and the available treatments, please contact Columbus, Ohio, physiologic dentist Dr. Michael Firouzian at the Center for Family and Cosmetic Dentistry.