Can TMJ Cause Neck Pain?

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is one of the most prevalent reasons for jaw discomfort, popping sounds, and crepitus, all of which can be painfully unpleasant, especially if you move your head too rapidly or suddenly.

Few people are aware that TMJ can result in chronic jaw pain. Most people believe that symptoms such as headaches, neck aches, and soreness are simply a natural part of aging. As a result, they can no longer eat food without carefully chewing it or speak at a low volume for fear of cracking their teeth on their own molars.

This article will explain how TMJ affects your neck and how it causes discomfort.

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Learn more about TMJ: What is TMJ?

What is TMJ Disorder?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a small joint that connects the lower jawbone to the skull in front of the ear.

TMJ allows the lower jaw to move, allowing you to talk, chew, and yawn. It is a complicated joint with numerous muscles, ligaments, and bones. Several symptoms can arise when this joint becomes uncomfortable or misplaced, including:

  • pain

  • when you move your jaw, you may hear clicking or popping sounds

  • you may have difficulty opening or closing your mouth

The temporomandibular joint disorder can cause neck pain in some people. The muscles in your upper back and shoulders tense up as you try to compensate for the problem with your jaw muscles, putting more pressure on these areas.

TMJ pain is treated conservatively and non-surgically with medication, ice packs, physical therapy, and dental appliances. Massage therapy is another option if trigger points need to be addressed.

Jana, our massage therapist in Richmond, VA, can help release these muscles through targeted deep tissue work and trigger point therapy. In addition to making joints more flexible, massage therapy relieves muscle tension.

Common Causes of TMJ Disorder

There are many potential causes of TMJ disorder, including:

  • dislocation of the disc between the socket and the ball joint

  • bruxism or teeth grinding

  • jaw clenching

  • misalignment of the teeth or jaw

  • arthritis

  • trauma to the jaw

  • poor neck posture

These factors can all lead to TMJ discomfort. It is associated with neck pain, headaches, earaches, and dizziness.

Symptoms of TMJ Disorder

When jaw discomfort becomes chronic and is accompanied by additional symptoms, it may indicate TMJ disease. Common TMJ symptoms include the following:

  • earaches

  • headaches

  • neck pain

  • stiffness or tingling in the arms or legs

  • tooth pain

Severe cases can cause difficulty chewing food and speaking or swallowing in addition to dealing with these incapacitating symptoms alone. Those suffering from TMJ disorder must also deal with being unable to work due to constant fatigue and difficulties.

Treatment Options for TMJ-Related Pain

Physical massage therapy is one of several treatment options available to help relieve the pain associated with TMJ disorder. A massage therapist will work on your neck muscles during the therapy and may use tools such as heat or ultrasound to reduce inflammation.

They will also provide you with postural training to help you strengthen the muscles in your back and neck that may be causing tightness and tension around your jaw joint. Other options include:

Lifestyle Treatments

There are a number of things that can be done at home to alleviate TMJ pain. As well as avoiding hard and chewy foods, applying ice or heat to the affected area can be beneficial.

As a result of massaging the jaw and neck muscles, stress-relieving techniques such as yoga and meditation can also be beneficial.

Surgery For Severe Cases

Surgery may be the best option for treating TMJ-related pain if it doesn’t respond to other treatment options. Several different types of surgery can be performed, and your doctor will work with you to determine the best option for your individual case. Surgery aims to improve jaw movement and reduce pain, so you can feel relieved and get back to your normal life.

How Does TMJ Disorder Cause Neck Pain?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects the neck and jaw bones. When this joint is stressed, the muscles around the neck can become irritated. Furthermore, your jaw cannot move as it should if you have a TMJ disorder.

It may cause your neck muscles to work overtime in an attempt to compensate. As a result, neck pain and stiffness are common. A misaligned jaw can put pressure on the nerves in your neck, causing pain.


What does neck pain from TMJ feel like?

TMJ neck pain can feel like a dull ache or a sharp pain. It can be on one or both sides of the neck. The pain could travel up into the head or down into the shoulders. TMJ neck pain can be exacerbated by certain movements of the head or by chewing.

Where does your neck hurt with TMJ?

TMJ pain is most commonly felt at the base of the skull, where the head and neck meet. This is due to the location of the muscles and tendons that connect the jaw to the skull. When these muscles are tense or in spasm, they can cause neck and shoulder pain.

Can TMJ affect your neck muscles?

The muscles in your neck work hard to keep your head upright, and if your TMJ isn’t working properly, they have to work even harder. It can cause fatigue and neck muscle pain. 

Book an Appointment Today With Our TMJ Specialist in Richmond, VA

TMJ disorder can, in fact, cause neck pain. For example, if your jaw is misaligned and causing headaches and muscle spasms in your neck or shoulders, you may have a temporomandibular joint problem.

If you require massage services to treat your condition, contact a professional right away. For more information, please contact Attune Massage Therapy. We provide customized treatments to meet your specific requirements. Our massage therapist is a highly trained professional who will provide targeted massages to these troubled areas.

Call us today at 804-901-2952 to learn how we can help you get rid of those aches and pains.

Featured on Virginia This Morning:

Jana Powell recently sat down with Jessica Noll from Virginia This Morning to talk about TMD.

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