Neck and Jaw Pain

Neck and jaw refer to the interconnected structures in the upper body. The neck comprises the cervical spine, muscles, and ligaments, while the jaw includes the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and associated muscles. These areas play essential roles in supporting head movements, posture, and facilitating chewing and speaking functions.

Neck and Jaw Pain
Neck and Jaw Pain
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Your Guide to Understanding Neck and Jaw Pain

What is Neck and Jaw Pain?

Neck and jaw are integral parts of the human body, working together to provide support, movement, and essential functions. The neck refers to the region between the head and the shoulders, encompassing the cervical spine, muscles, and ligaments. It plays a crucial role in connecting the head to the rest of the body, allowing for mobility and stability.

The cervical spine, which consists of seven vertebrae, supports the weight of the head and protects the spinal cord. The muscles and ligaments surrounding the neck provide additional support and facilitate various movements, such as tilting, rotating, and bending the head. They also help maintain proper posture and alignment, preventing excessive strain and tension.

The jaw, on the other hand, refers to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and the associated muscles responsible for chewing, speaking, and facial expressions. The TMJ is a complex joint located just in front of the ear, where the lower jaw (mandible) connects with the skull. It allows for the opening and closing of the mouth, as well as sideways and forward movements required for chewing and speaking.

How can Chiropractic help treat Neck and Jaw Pain?

Chiropractic services provide a unique approach to alleviate neck and jaw issues by focusing on the musculoskeletal system and nervous system. Chiropractors understand that imbalances in the spine can contribute to neck and jaw pain.

Through manual adjustments, they can improve motion of the vertebrae, relieve tension, and restore proper joint function. Chiropractors may also use techniques such as soft tissue therapy, exercises, and lifestyle recommendations to reduce inflammation, improve range of motion, and strengthen the supporting muscles. By addressing the underlying causes of neck and jaw pain, chiropractic care can provide effective relief and promote long-term neck and jaw health.

What causes Neck and Jaw Pain?

Neck and jaw issues can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Poor posture: Maintaining improper posture while sitting or standing for long periods can strain the muscles and ligaments in the neck and jaw, leading to discomfort and pain.
  • Muscle tension and stress: Excessive stress and tension can cause the muscles in the neck and jaw to tighten and become stiff. This can result in pain, limited mobility, and even headaches.
  • Injury or trauma: Accidents, sports-related injuries, or sudden impacts to the head or face can lead to neck and jaw problems. Whiplash, for example, is a common condition caused by the rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck, often occurring during car accidents.
  • Degenerative conditions: Conditions such as osteoarthritis or degenerative disc disease can affect the structures in the neck, including the cervical spine. Over time, wear and tear can lead to pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion.
  • Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD): TMD is a condition that affects the jaw joint and surrounding muscles. It can be caused by factors like teeth grinding, jaw clenching, or misalignment of the jaw.
  • Repetitive strain: Repeated actions that strain the neck and jaw, such as prolonged computer use, excessive phone texting, or playing musical instruments, can contribute to discomfort and pain over time.

What treatments might help Neck and Jaw Pain?

When it comes to improving neck and jaw issues, there are various treatment options available. Here are some common treatments that can help:

  • Dermal fillers: Dermal fillers are often used to lift and tighten the neck. They provide immediate results by adding volume and improving the appearance of sagging skin in the neck area.
  • Neck and jaw stretching exercises: Specific stretching exercises can help improve the flexibility and strength of the neck and jaw muscles. These exercises can be done while sitting upright and involve tilting the head upwards and holding positions without causing any pain.
  • Chin fillers: For individuals with a protruding chin caused by aging, chin fillers can be used to enhance the shape of the neck and jaw. This treatment can contribute to a more defined and youthful appearance.
  • Skin tightening treatments: Procedures like Thermage, Ultraformer III, and Laser Genesis are aimed at tightening and lifting the skin around the neck area. They can reduce wrinkles and promote a smoother appearance.
  • Neurotoxin injections: Neurotoxin injections, such as Botox, can relax the masseter muscles in the jawline, helping to achieve a more defined and sculpted jawline.
  • Kybella: Kybella is an injectable treatment specifically designed to reduce fat beneath the chin and improve the contour of the neck and jawline.
  • Surgical interventions: In cases where non-invasive treatments do not provide the desired results, surgical procedures can be considered. These procedures involve removing excess skin and reshaping the neck and jaw areas.

Signs of Neck and Jaw Pain:

Neck and jaw issues can manifest with various signs and symptoms. Here are some common indications that you may be experiencing problems in these areas:

  • Pain: Persistent or recurring pain in the neck and jaw is a common symptom. The pain can range from mild discomfort to sharp and intense sensations. It may be localized to specific areas or radiate to other parts of the head, face, or shoulders.
  • Stiffness: Feeling stiffness or tightness in the muscles of the neck and jaw is another typical sign. This can make it difficult to move these areas freely, causing limited range of motion.
  • Headaches: Neck and jaw problems can often lead to headaches, particularly tension headaches. These headaches typically occur at the base of the skull or in the temples and may be accompanied by muscle tenderness.
  • Clicking or popping sounds: If you experience clicking, popping, or grinding sounds when moving your jaw, it could be a sign of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction. TMJ issues can cause discomfort and affect jaw movement.
  • Difficulty chewing or speaking: Neck and jaw problems can impact your ability to chew food or speak comfortably. You may feel pain or have limitations in opening and closing your mouth properly.
  • Jaw locking: In severe cases, the jaw may lock in an open or closed position, making it challenging to move it back into a normal position without intervention.
  • Muscle spasms: Uncontrolled muscle contractions or spasms in the neck and jaw can occur, causing involuntary movements and additional discomfort.

Symptoms of Neck and Jaw Pain:

Symptoms of neck and jaw issues can vary from person to person, but here are some common signs to look out for:

  • Pain: One of the most prevalent symptoms is pain in the neck and jaw region. This pain can range from mild discomfort to severe and throbbing sensations.
  • Stiffness: Feeling stiffness or tightness in the muscles of the neck and jaw is another symptom. It may be challenging to move your neck or jaw freely, and you might experience a reduced range of motion.
  • Headaches: Neck and jaw problems can often result in headaches, particularly tension headaches. These headaches typically occur at the base of the skull or in the temples and can cause aching or pressure-like sensations.
  • Clicking or popping sounds: If you notice clicking, popping, or grinding sounds when moving your jaw, it could be a symptom of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction. These sounds may accompany jaw pain or discomfort.
  • Difficulty chewing or speaking: Neck and jaw issues can make it difficult to chew food or speak comfortably. You may feel pain or have limitations in opening and closing your mouth properly.
  • Jaw locking: In some cases, the jaw may lock in an open or closed position, making it challenging to move it back into a normal position without help.
  • Muscle spasms: Uncontrolled muscle contractions or spasms in the neck and jaw can occur, causing involuntary movements and added discomfort.
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When is the right time to see a Chiropractor for Neck and Jaw Pain?

If you are experiencing persistent or recurring neck and jaw discomfort, it may be beneficial to seek the expertise of a chiropractor. Here are some signs that indicate it may be the right time to consider a visit:

  • Pain and limited mobility: If you are experiencing ongoing pain, stiffness, or reduced range of motion in your neck and jaw, it's a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional. They can assess your condition, identify any underlying issues, and provide appropriate treatment options.
  • Posture-related concerns: If you have poor posture habits or spend long hours in a position that strains your neck and jaw, seeking help from a chiropractor, physiotherapist, or naturopath can be beneficial. They can offer guidance on proper posture techniques and provide exercises to strengthen supporting muscles, helping to alleviate discomfort and prevent further issues.
  • Recent injury or trauma: If you have recently experienced an injury or trauma that affects your neck or jaw, it's crucial to seek professional care. Healthcare professionals in these fields can assess the extent of the damage, provide appropriate treatment, and guide you through the recovery process.
  • Chronic or recurring issues: If you frequently experience neck and jaw issues that disrupt your daily activities or quality of life, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare professional. They can help identify any underlying causes, develop a personalized treatment plan, and provide strategies for long-term management.
  • Lifestyle factors: If your neck and jaw problems are linked to lifestyle factors such as stress, tension, or poor habits like teeth grinding, a chiropractor can offer guidance and interventions to address these concerns and improve your overall well-being.

Meet our Lead Chiropractor

Dr. Brett Herlehy

Dr. Brett Herlehy

Chiropractor

Doctor of Chiropractic from New York Chiropractic College

Dr. Brett enjoys working with active individuals looking to reach the next level and also anyone who is trying to incorporate more physical activity into their daily lives.

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Physiotherapist Brittany Pereira working with client at Anchor Health and Performance Clinic Mississauga
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