Surprising reason behind Head and Neck Pain

Poway and Rancho Bernardo, CA

Headaches and neck and back pain seem to plague everyone at some point in life. Lifting something too heavy or some other short-term muscle strain could cause occasional pain, but chronic sufferers may be dealing with a bigger issue. Dr. Nicol Cook, a TMJ specialist in Poway, wants to discuss the surprising reason behind head and neck pain, and how medication and painkillers don’t have to be your end game.

Do you experience frequent headaches? Are your headaches often so severe they mimic migraines? Do you experience pain in your neck or back that doesn’t seem to be spurred by any particular activity or another reasonable explanation? If any of these sound familiar, and you don’t seem to be getting any relief, read on.

Getting right to the chase, let’s talk about TMJ or the temporomandibular joint. It’s what connects your jaw to your skull. Nerves and blood vessels are closely located near this joint, meaning if any sort of imbalance such as TMJ disorder occurs, it undoubtedly causes restricted blood flow and inflammation in this area. Since these nerves travel from the jaw to the head, neck, and eventually to the spinal cord, it is no wonder that a seemingly small irritation in the jaw can quickly manifest into a much bigger problem – pain in the neck and back.

What causes TMJ disorder?

TMJ disorder or TMD for short can be caused my crooked or missing teeth, teeth that are uneven or worn (causing the bite to collapse, straining the jaw joints), arthritis, or an injury could lead to the jaw joints becoming misaligned. In these instances, the soft tissue, nerves, and blood vessels become strained, inflamed, and irritated. Similar in nature to someone with sciatica (compressed nerve pain in the lower back), they often experience pain and tingling down their leg, and even as low as their foot. For those dealing with TMD, their imbalanced jaw could cause forward head posture, causing strain on the neck that eventually leads to back pain as well.

It may be hard to imagine how something like your teeth could cause your neck and back to hurt but think of your mouth, head, and neck as a complete system that works together to achieve harmony and balance. It is naturally designed to work together. Take for instance a vehicle. Normal wear and tear on a vehicle eventually cause the wheel alignment to become “off.” If you ignore this necessary maintenance on your vehicle the tires are unevenly worn, you may feel a jerking or pulling sensation from the steering wheel as you drive, and eventually, the entire vehicle will feel rough and shaky as you drive. Driving a car with misaligned wheels essentially starts a domino effect of issues that only worsen when ignored.

Now, what happens if you just replaced those unevenly worn tires? They will just wear out again just as fast as the other set did, and you will still be left with a bumpy ride. If, however, you fix the root of the problem, which is the alignment of the wheels, then suddenly everything else that was impacted by the wheel alignment seems to be corrected as well. Our bodies work in a similar fashion. When one seemingly insignificant problem arises, it’s best not to ignore it because eventually, it will lead to even more problems down the road. The same is true for TMJ disorder. If you experience neck and back pain, along with headaches, get it checked by your dentist in Poway. An in-depth, yet pain-free TMJ analysis can easily reveal whether your problems are stemming from TMD.

Dr. Cook, an LVI trained dentist in Poway, has undergone extensive training in neuromuscular dentistry, and she understands the art and science of creating harmony and balance in the mouth, and how that balance relates to the whole body. To learn more about TMJ disorder or how Dr. Cook treats it without using medication or surgery, please call (858) 673-0141 or contact Smiles by Dr. Cook today. We welcome patients of Poway and Rancho Bernardo, California.