The Surprising cause of Head, Neck, and Back Pain

head neck and back pain

head neck and back painServing patients of Erwin, Jonesborough, and Greeneville TN

Headaches and neck pain are common symptoms in men and women at nearly every life stage. However, in many cases, people write the symptoms off as stress or spending hours in front of electronics like cell phones or computer screens. Although doing so can create headaches and neck pain, your pain could originate from a different source. Our Erwin dentists who treat TMJ patients at Tusculum Dental Care share the surprising cause of head, neck, and back pain and what to do to relieve painful symptoms.

What is TMJ?

TMJ or temporomandibular joint disorder is a condition that sends pain radiating through your head, neck, shoulders, and back, resulting from irritation or inflammation of the joint that connects your lower jawbone to the skull.

Many TMJ cases result from trauma, but most patient’s conditions are from the following:

  • Arthritis
  • Missing teeth
  • Misaligned teeth
  • Uneven or worn teeth
  • Clenching or grinding habits (Bruxism)

Teeth missing, misaligned, uneven, or worn can change the delicate bite balance and create unnecessary strain on your jaw joint. Over time, the stress causes irritation and inflammation to develop. Furthermore, the surrounding facial muscles responsible for jaw movement may become irritated and sore. Our Jonesboro TMJ dentists explain that patients report clicking noises when speaking or opening their mouths to chew, a feeling that the jaw will get stuck in an open position, or pain when closing the mouth in the most extreme cases.

Why do I get pain in my head, neck, and back if the problem is my jaw joints?

Your jaw joint is close to a major nerve called the trigeminal nerve, responsible for sending temperature, pain, and touch sensations from your face to your brain. Therefore, when your jaw joint becomes irritated or inflamed, it directly impacts the trigeminal nerve, sending painful feelings throughout your body. Our TMJ dentists in Greeneville explain that most patients notice the intense pain after waking up in the morning due to clenching and grinding their teeth while sleeping. Still, other patients may suffer from consistent pain throughout the day.

What treatments are available for TMJ?

Most individuals who suffer from TMJ symptoms reach for over-the-counter medications to treat the pain. However, after a few hours, the pain often returns. Over-the-counter and prescription medications can only treat painful sensations for a limited time because it doesn’t treat the cause of pain. Fortunately, TMJ treatments in Erwin are very effective for symptom relief when custom-designed to the patient’s individual needs. Additionally, seeking early treatment is your best defense against inflammation that can cause severe jaw joint damage.

Our Jonesborough neuromuscular dentists offer multiple methods to treat TMJ cases. For example, in milder cases that illustrate an issue with teeth clenching and grinding, our dentists may recommend wearing a custom-fitted mouthguard while sleeping to protect tooth surfaces and structure from intense biting pressures. On the other hand, more severe cases may require physical therapy, involving biofeedback therapy to reduce stress, gentle jaw stretching to relieve muscle stress and inflammation, and nerve stimulation to relax tense jaw muscles. In addition to treatments specific to TMJ symptoms, our dentists may recommend additional dental work to correct poorly aligned or badly damaged teeth to restore bite balance and functionality.

TMJ Dentist in Greeneville, Jonesborough, and Erwin, Tennessee

Getting a good start to the day can quickly become a fallacy when you wake up with excruciating pain in your head, neck, or back. Although you may be able to get through your day using pain relievers, the symptoms are sure to return and become stronger without adequate treatment. If you recognize possible TMJ symptoms, our Greeneville TMJ dentists recommend visiting our office for an exam and treatment options. Please call Tusculum Dental Care at (423) 639-7575 or contact us online to schedule an appointment today.