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Michigan Head & Neck Institute

TMJ Blog

12. 12. 2016

Recent News, TMJ

My TMJ is a Pain in the Neck

Do you ever wonder where your neck pain is coming from?  Have you seen multiple doctors and they can’t give you a straight answer?  It may be that the underlying cause of the pain is a TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder, which is usually overlooked. When your jaw becomes dislocated, the surrounding muscles go into spasm.  This includes your neck muscles.  Symptoms can include not just neck pain, but stiffness, wry neck/torticollis, numbness in the neck, inability to turn the head left or right, joint sounds during neck movement, arthritis in the neck, etc.

man-neck

Jaw dislocation and neck pain may be due to the degeneration of muscles, ligaments and bone, or through congenital abnormalities in the joint. Disorders that result in hypermobility may also lead to patients experiencing multiple jaw dislocations and, over time, repeated damage to the bones and ligaments. If left untreated, TMD may also result in degeneration of the jaw, jaw dislocation and neck pain.

The muscles controlling the movement of the jaw (masseter, temporalis, medial & lateral pterygoids) are also a possible cause of jaw and neck pain.  Severe cramping in the muscles can pull the TMJ out of position, and weakened muscles can cause the joint to move.

In addition to the bones and ligaments that make up the TMJ, there is also a blood supply from one of the most major arteries of the head (temporal artery). The nerves here are responsible for providing signals for movement in the TMJ.  Neck and jaw pain can result from damage to facial nerves.

Posture is another huge influence on the head and neck.  Certain postural changes and imbalances can have adverse effects.  One factor that has become all too common is the fact that most people’s jobs today require hours upon hours of computer work.  This requires that the arms and head be positioned more anterior to the rest of the body for extended periods of time.  Over time, this causes the cervical muscles to contract, which leads to chronic achiness and eventual pain.

Click on the following link to read about the relationship between computer use and TMJ disorders http://www.cda-adc.ca/jcda/vol-74/issue-7/643.pdf

typing

Examples of Good vs. Bad Posture:

Good Posture Bad Posture
Head erect, chin in Head forward or backward, or tilted
Chest up, but not exaggerated Chest down, shoulders turned in/down
Upper back slightly backward Upper back forward and rounded
Lower back slightly forward Lower back arched
Neutral position of hips/pelvis Hips/pelvis backward or forward
Knees relaxed (easy) Knees forward or backward or bent

 

Another cause of neck pain would be a motor vehicle accident (whiplash), or other type of traumatic injury (sports injury, punch in the face, etc).  Pain and stiffness may be present hours or days after an injury.  Symptoms immediately following an accident include muscle strain, loss of range of motion and pain. The nature of the pain varies, and can worsen with fatigue.

 

3-necks

For patients who have suffered a serious accident like this, chances are they have dislocated their jaw (bilaterally or unilaterally).  In addition to physical therapy, treatment with an intraoral orthotic will most likely benefit the patient.  This orthotic addresses the jaw dislocation and aims to conservatively treat the patient.

If you have any questions about your neck pain and think it may be related to your jaw, please contact Dr. Klein and schedule your consultation today (586) 573 – 0438.

References:

Wiesel, S., Boden, S., Borenstein, D., Feffer, M. Neck Pain: 2nd Edition, 1992.

Scherping, S., Boden, S., Borenstein, D., Wiesel, S. Neck Pain: 3rd Edition, 2000.

Fernandez CE, Amiri A, Jaime J, Delaney P. The relationship of whiplash injury and temporomandibular disorders: a narrative literature review. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine. 2009;8(4):171-186.

Silveira A, Gadotti IC, Armijo-Olivo S, Biasotto-Gonzalez DA, Magee D. Jaw Dysfunction Is Associated with Neck Disability and Muscle Tenderness in Subjects with and without Chronic Temporomandibular Disorders. BioMed Research International. 2015;2015:512792.

Warfel, John. The Head, Neck & Trunk: 5th Edition, 1985.

 

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The contents of this website, such as text, graphics, images, and other materials are for informational purposes only. While there are many commonalities among multiple TMD and sleep apnea cases, each patient is unique. Information on this website should be used to educate the reader about what they should discuss with their doctor if they are suffering from the listed symptoms. The information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of your physician or you may call our office with any questions you may have regarding TMD or sleep apnea. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.