When you have unexplained shoulder or back pain, you may place the blame on the usual suspects:
- your mattress
- too much sitting or standing
- too much stress
While any of these things can cause back and spinal pain, there is another cause that most people never even consider.
Believe it or not, your jaws can be responsible for pain in your head, your neck, your shoulders and even your back. How can this be possible? The answer involves the nervous system and the way pain signals are sent through your body.
Why we experience pain
Pain is felt when we receive signals from our nerves to indicate that something is wrong. If we didn’t feel pain, we wouldn’t know when health problems or injuries were threatening our good health.
The problem is that sometimes pain is felt far from its source. This happens when pain signals get routed through complicated nerve centers and wind up being misdirected. The result could be something like a headache because of a problem with your teeth. It could also be felt as shoulder pain or back pain due to a problem with your jaws.
About TMJ and referred pain
TMJ stands for your temporomandibular joint. These are the joints that allow your jaws to move. They go to work every time you open or close your mouth and are susceptible to problems if they become overworked due to issues such as arthritis, an injury or a bite misalignment.
TMJ disorder is a relatively common condition that can cause jaw pain and pain throughout the head and neck, shoulder and back. This is due to tight jaw muscles caused by TMJ, which place pressure on the nerve systems that run through them. The nerves can send referred pain to other parts of your body causing TMJ symptoms such as:
- facial, neck, shoulder or back pain
- vision and hearing problems, like floaters in your field of vision or ringing in your ears
Treatment for TMJ symptoms
Any pain can be treated temporarily with medications, but for long term relief, it is necessary to identify and treat the underlying cause of the pain. If you are diagnosed with TMJ disorder by our Milwaukee dentist, treatment to relieve stress on your jaws could relieve TMJ symptoms.
The most common TMJ treatment is a removable oral appliance that helps your jaws to relax. If you have problems with your teeth like a bad bite, permanent changes to your bite or your teeth are sometimes recommended as a TMJ treatment.
If you would like to learn more and TMJ, please schedule a consultation.