There are lots of reasons for neck pain, but if you are getting neck and jaw pain, then it narrows down to these reasons.
There are lots of muscles in the neck that run up and attach to the skull bones, what this means is that a problem in the neck can effect the skull bones. As one of the skull bones (the temporal) makes up half of the jaw joint an issue in the neck can affect the jaw joint. So, of course, a problem in the jaw can also cause an issue with the neck hence why neck and jaw pain often appear together.
The TMJ is the jaw joint T = temporal Bone M – Mandible (jaw bone) J = Joint. TMJ Syndrome is the name given to ongoing pain and inflammation in that joint. It is important because TMJ problems can cause not only jaw pain but also neck pain or a combination of neck and jaw pain.
Muscle strains in the neck, upper back or shoulders can cause jaw pain. One classic cause would be lots of time on the computer especially if you are using a laptop with a mouse tracker pad. This can cause strain in the shoulder blade (scapula) this will cause a problem with the muscle that lifts the shoulder blade (levator scapulae) and this muscle runs up and attaches to the skull (occiput) this can, in turn, cause a problem for the TMJ by affecting the temporal bone.
Jaw pain and teeth problems can cause problems to go the other way into the neck so if you are a teeth grinder or you have a cracking popping or clicking jaw then suspect this.
Sometimes if you grind your teeth a dentist may have given you a mouth guard, if this fits properly and is very thin it can work well however sometimes they can stop the damage to the teeth but can cause jaw pain and headaches. If it does, then the mouth guard is probably too thick and is causing a pull on the ligaments around the jaw.
Osteopaths can treat the skull bones, neck and jaw. Treating these areas to release strains in the muscles and bones around the neck, jaw, throat and skull can help with neck and jaw pain.
As there may also be tensions in other areas of the body that are contributing to the problem treatment of the shoulders upper back, ribs and even the lower back may be indicated. (For example, the ‘lat’ muscle runs from the low back to the shoulder blade, and that’s a common link from the low back up to the shoulder and then up into the neck and jaw).
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