TMJ Neck Pain.TMJ Neck Pain is a very usual consequence of TMJ - I rarely see a client with TMJ pain that is not associated with neck pain.
The TMJ is closely related to the neck both anatomically and functionally. Let me explain this to a little bit more.
Just behind your jaw are the upper neck joints. So, when your neck moves so will your jaw - and when your jaw moves so will your neck!
The muscles that move your jaw are attached via fascial tissue to each other, and to the muscles that move your neck. Therefore there will always be a movement relationship between your neck and jaw.
The cause of your TMJ pain can be from the TMJ itself or from a problem in your neck function having a knock-on effect on your jaw. I sometimes see people having dental work and appliances prescribed to their jaw when the root of the problem is in their neck. In these situations the jaw pain returns after time as the cause of the pain is still there.
As always a correct diagnosis is the most important aspect in the long term resolution of your TMJ and neck pain. Treating the source of the problem is very important.
If your jaw is the primary problem then treatment to your jaw is the primary route of treatment, followed by treatment to your neck. If your neck is the primary problem, treatment to your neck is your first form of treatment followed by or in conjunction with treatment to your jaw.
It is my opinion that a dentist and a specialised Physiotherapist in this field should work together with you, in both the diagnosis and the treatment or your TMJ and neck pain, to ensure the most rapid and successful outcome for you .
Treatment may involve mobilisation and tmj exercises alone or it may require dental correction followed by mobilisation and exercises. The key is in the diagnosis and the elimination of the cause. Rarely, but sometimes, surgery is required, where structural changes have occurred in your jaw from the problem being there for a long period of time or from a direct trauma to your neck or jaw.
Never ignore signs and symptoms of jaw and neck disorders.
Let me tell you about Tara who suffered with her neck and TMJ.
Tara was a 14 year old girl who had left sided neck and jaw pain. She had been suffering with her pain intermittently for three years by the time she got to me.
It all started when she was eleven and one day while biting an apple and felt pain in her left jaw. After a few days the pain disappeared but every time Tara ate something which required her to open her mouth wide her jaw would ache and on occasions make a "clunking" noise.
Unfortunately, it was never bad enough for her to go to the doctor and she adjusted her method of eating so as not to place any pressure on her jaw. By doing this she stayed generally pain free.
Unfortunately, the underlying condition continued to exist. Then, one day her jaw pain became very severe following a laughing episode! She took some Neurofen which helped but the following day the left side of her neck was hurting also.
She went to her doctor who referred her to me.
On assessment, Tara had a compressed and tight left-sided TMJ. Also, her facet joints in the upper part of her neck were tight and restricted on palpation. I treated Tara on three occasions and her symptoms improved considerably.
At the end of three sessions she reported her pain to have improved by about 70%. From my perspective her movement had also improved by 70% but I was unable to resolve it fully so I referred Tara to a dentist specialising in TMJ.
The dentist took some x-rays and agreed with my findings. He took a mould of her mouth and provided her with a night splint to wear as she slept. In the meantime I continued to exercise Tara's jaw and neck.
8 weeks later Tara had a full range of movement and was pain free. She felt confident biting into apples again!
We advised her to continue to wear her night splint and do her home exercises. Ihe dentist and I reviewed her three months later. She was perfect! Her splint was no longer needed but we advised her to have an annual review to ensure the problem did not return. So far so good!
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Further References:TMJ Symptoms. In my experience the symptoms of TMJ are varied and many. In my practice I often see two TMJ problems a day and rarely are any two presentations the same. Find out more at Signs and Symptoms of TMJ.
TMJ Causes. TMJ problems are commonly associated with neck and back conditions. Unfortunately, TMJ dysfunctions are often overlooked or not diagnosed by therapists and doctors. Find out more at Causes of TMJ.
TMJ Treatment Options. There are two aspects involved in the treatment of TMJ disorders: Pain relief and mechanical correction. Find out more at TMJ Treatment Options.
Exercises for TMJ. Even severe TMJ pain symptoms can be relieved with specific exercises. It just takes the right exercises - and a continued effort over time. Find out more at TMJ Exercises.
TMJ Surgery. TMJ surgery can be very successful and a great relief to the patient suffering from TMJ pain. However, before we go on - I feel strongly that all other options should be exhausted first before you go down the surgical route. Find out more at TMJ Surgery.
TMJ and Tinnitus. Tinnitus is often a symptom of a TMJ dysfunction. Find out more at TMJ Tinnitus.
TMJ.ORG. The TMJ association is a patient advocate organisation - giving you access to the thoughts and opinions of others suffering from this condition, as well as treatment approaches that worked for them. Find out more at TMJ.ORG.
The Mayo Clinic. Gives the formal medical perspective on TMJ treatment including use of drugs and surgery. Find out more at Mayo Clinic TMJ info.
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