Neck and Jaw Tension Symptoms
Neck and jaw tension symptoms or discomfort may contribute to pain in your head, ears, teeth, face, and upper back. The intensity of your neck and jaw tension symptoms can vary greatly. It is often described as painful, achy, throbbing, tender, or severe. These sensations may worsen whilst you are chewing or yawning.
The exact location of the pain can also vary. If you have a tight jaw, you may feel discomfort in only one or on both sides of your face, jaw, nose, mouth, or ears.
In addition to pain, other neck and jaw tension symptoms may include:
Decreased range of movement when you try to open your mouthlocking of your jaw joint (TMJ)
Clicking sounds in your jaw
Ear pain, buzzing or ringing in your ears
Discomfort in your throat
Here are 5 possible causes of your neck and jaw tension symptoms
1. Temporomandibular joint disorders
TMJ disorders can create pain or neck and jaw tension symptoms. It can cause jaw pain or lock in one or both of your jaw joints (TMJ – temporomandibular joints). TMJ may be felt as aching or throbbing pain or tenderness inside your ear or near your ear, jaw, and face, scalp or head. Chewing certain foods may increase pain. Chewing may also induce a clicking sound or grinding sensation.
If you are stressed or anxious you may find you are clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth while you’re asleep. You may also hold your jaw in a tight clench during the day without being aware of it. This can often happen when you are concentrating on something else, like focus on a work task. You may not even realise you are doing it. Clenching can cause neck and jaw tension symptoms when you are asleep and whilst you are awake. The neck and jaw symptoms, particularly pain, may be worse while you eat or talk.
Stress and subsequent jaw clenching can also cause other symptoms, such as tension headaches, temple headaches, ear pain, face pain or symptoms of hearing loss, neck pain, shoulder and upper back pain.
3. Teeth grinding or bruxism
Grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw may not always be due to stress alone. There may be other contributing factors, such as genetics or dental problems such as mal-aligned teeth. Bruxism usually happens during the night when you are asleep. You might grind your teeth when you’re awake, although you may not be aware that you are doing this.
Bruxism can cause neck and jaw tension symptoms such as a sore face, neck pain, jaw pain, ear pain, hearing loss, buzzing or ringing in your ears and headaches.
4. Habitual constant chewing
Constantly chewing on gum can lead to neck and jaw tension symptoms.
5. Rheumatoid Arthritis or other inflammatory Arthritic conditions
Rheumatoid Arthritis is one of many autoimmune inflammatory disorders that can affect your muscles and joints. The vast majority of patients with these inflammatory arthritic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis have TMJ, which is a cause of tightness in the jaw. The chronic inflammation from inflammatory arthritis may cause damage to your jaw joints and the surrounding structures. In some severe cases, there may be bone loss in the jaw.