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Your Neck Pain Might Be Caused By a TMJ Disorder

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Most people have experienced a tension headache or occasional neck pain of unknown origin. Oftentimes, these symptoms may come and go in isolation. However, headache and neck pain that occurs in combination with other symptoms may surprisingly indicate a condition that should be discussed with a dentist.

TMJ Disorder Signs and Symptoms

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects the jaw to the skull. At times, these joints may become painful and tense due to a variety of triggers. Among the most common contributors to TMJ pain are chronically clenching the jaw and grinding the teeth. Identifying TMJ pain may range from straightforward to downright tricky as symptoms may manifest in unusual ways. Some people experience facial pain, difficulty opening or closing their mouth, or a “clicking” jaw, which makes the underlying condition easier to pinpoint. Others may experience neck pain and limited range of motion in the neck as a result of severe cramping in the jaw. Ringing or aching in the ear and even dizziness may also occur as a result of TMJ disorder. Therefore, it is important for patients to notify their dentist if any of these symptoms occur as lasting relief may require dental treatment.

Treating TMJ Disorders

Because TMJ disorders may have a variety of origins, including jaw injury, wisdom teeth causing misalignment, unconscious clenching, and arthritis, treatment approaches may vary depending on the patient. TMJ pain can often be eased at home with gentle neck and jaw stretches to relieve tension. Over-the-counter painkillers and ice packs can also provide temporary respite from the discomfort. The dentist may prescribe a mouth guard for people grind their teeth during sleep. In some cases, physical therapy may be necessary. There is even a special form of TMJ massage that can provide immediate relief from spasms in the jaw muscles.

Discussing TMJ With Your Dentist

The first step to treating a disorder is diagnosing it. Therefore, patients should notify their dentist as soon as they notice pain that may be linked to a TMJ disorder. With more unusual symptoms like neck tension and headaches, keeping a detailed journal to track when the pain occurs, activities that may have caused it to flare up, and whether other symptoms are occurring at the same time can provide valuable information to your healthcare provider. Working together with your dentist can help you find real solutions to treat and ideally correct the underlying cause of a TMJ disorder.

If you want to find out if you have TMJ and are in the Chandler and Gilbert, AZ area call our office today to schedule a consultation

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