The temporomandibular joint is the most complex joint in the human body, and it moves in a number of different ways, unlike any other joint. The hinge action of the TMJ allows movement of the two sides of the face, both forward and back and up and down. No other joint in the human body moves both horizontally and vertically. Because the TMJ is so complex, when something goes awry, a number of painful symptoms may develop. In addition to TMJ neck symptoms, you may also experience:
The focus here will be on how TMJ affects the neck.
TMJ and the Neck
Many people with neck pain will see their doctor and get a diagnosis of something involving the cervical spine, which is the part of the spine in the neck area. Oftentimes, however, neck symptoms are misdiagnosed. Many medical professionals do not look to the jaw to diagnose someone’s neck symptoms. For this reason, painful TMJ neck symptoms may go undiagnosed for months, if not years or decades.
For many people, TMJ dysfunction occurs when one or more of the muscles that keep the joint in place do not work properly. When it comes to the musculoskeletal system, muscle and joint movements do not take place in isolation, which means that misalignment of your temporomandibular joint can affect other muscles that influence the position of the TMJ, the position of your head, and the position of your neck and upper body. This is part of the reason dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint affects so many other areas of the head and body.
The muscle tension, muscle weakness, and muscle movement dysfunction that starts at the temporomandibular joint are transmitted to your neck, shoulders, upper back (the area referred to as the thoracic area), and even the lower back (the area referred to as the lumbosacral area).
Further Explanation of TMJ Neck Pain
When you have TMJ, the inflammation within the temporomandibular joint on either side of your face will likely spread, and as the inflammation spreads, it moves along the nerves and muscles in the head area. As this occurs, TMJ sufferers feel pain in areas outside of the jaw, like the neck and upper body.
Inflammation that spreads into muscles, ligaments, and tendons tends to have a tight dull aching sensation in the TMJ, and the pain can be severe at times. This type of pain is often accompanied by muscle tightness that will be felt in the temple, the face, and even the neck. Simply put, Temporomandibular Joint Disorder affects much more than the joints of the jaw.
Due to the varied symptoms that may seem unrelated at first, TMJ is often missed as a diagnosis. However, premier Kansas City, Missouri, Physiologic Neuromuscular Dentist, Dr. Prabu Raman, has advanced training, education, and experience in diagnosing and treating disorders of the temporomandibular joint.
More TMJ Neck Symptoms
Now that we’ve explained why the neck is involved with the dysfunction of the TMJ, let’s take a look at some of the more common TMJ neck symptoms you may be experiencing:
- Stiff neck that feels like you slept on it wrong
- Neck pain
- Upper back pain
- Shoulder pain
- Burning sensation in the neck
- Decreased range of motion (ROM) in the neck
What Separates TMJ Neck Pain from Other Neck Pain?
Many frustrated TMJ sufferers wonder how you know if their neck pain is a jaw problem or a neck or spine problem. That’s a great question that Dr. Raman gets a lot. The TMJ-related neck aches and pains tend to worsen with jaw movements but become less when the jaw is rested and in its optimal position.
How the neck pain reacts to the jaw’s position is what separates TMJ neck pain from other head and neck aches due to tension headaches, disc problems in the neck, or muscle injuries. Also, when neck pain is presented with other symptoms involving the jaw, face, and ear, Dr. Raman knows to perform diagnostic testing to track the sounds and movements of your jaw using the most amazing neuromuscular dentistry technology available today.
Contact the Raman Center for TMJ & Sleep for TMJ Neck Pain
People travel from all over the globe to see Dr. Prabu Raman at Raman Center for TMJ & Sleep in Kansas City, Missouri. Dr. Raman has decades of experience treating TMJ and is an innovator, pioneer, and educator in Physiologic Neuromuscular Dentistry. Please call Raman Center today (816) 436-4422 or fill out the online contact form, so one of our team members can reach out to answer your questions or schedule a new patient evaluation.