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The Connection Between TMJ and Neck Pain: What You Need to Know

Have you ever experienced neck pain or discomfort? Chances are, it could be due to a variety of factors. One potential cause you may not be familiar with is an issue with your temporomandibular joint (TMJ).

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects your jaw to the temporal bone of your skull. It is located near the ear and allows for movements such as yawning, speaking, and eating. When it goes haywire, it can cause a variety of issues. One potentially surprising connection between TMJ issues and neck pain.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the link between TMJ and neck pain, and what you need to know about how to best treat it.

What is TMJ Disorder?

TMJ disorder or dysfunction (TMD) is a condition that affects the TMJ and the surrounding muscles and ligaments. It may cause pain, tenderness, clicking, or popping in the joint. People with TMD may also suffer from headaches, earaches, toothaches, tinnitus, back pain, and neck pain.

TMD can be caused by a variety of factors including bruxism (teeth grinding and clenching), injury, misaligned jaw, and arthritis. Being aware of these potential causes of TMD symptoms can help identify and address the underlying issues before they become more severe.

The Relationship Between TMJ and Neck Pain

So what’s the connection between TMJ and neck pain? It’s all about the muscles and ligaments that surround the TMJ, and how they can affect the muscles and ligaments in the neck. When the TMJ is not functioning properly, the muscle tension can extend to the neck, bringing on pain and discomfort.

In addition to the muscle tension, the pain signals from the TMJ can travel to the neck, thanks in part to the trigeminal nerve. This nerve carries sensory information from the face and head, including the TMJ, to the brain. When there’s an issue with the TMJ, these pain signals can also affect the neck.

Treating TMJ and Neck Pain

When dealing with TMJ and neck pain, treatment is aimed at improving the function of the TMJ, reducing muscle tension, and alleviating pain. Depending on the severity of the TMD symptoms, your healthcare provider may recommend a variety of treatment options.

The most common treatments for TMD and associated neck pain include:

Home Care:

This involves taking care of your TMJ symptoms from the comfort of your own home. This may include using heat and ice packs, relaxation techniques, and over-the-counter pain medication.

Physical Therapy:

A physical therapist can help you stretch and strengthen the muscles in the TMJ and neck. This can help alleviate muscle tension and improve function.

Orthopedic Appliances:

These devices, such as night guards or splints, are worn over the teeth at night. They can help reduce the effects of teeth grinding and clenching, which can be a factor in TMD symptoms.


In some cases, injections of medications such as corticosteroids or botox may be used to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.


In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the TMJ joint or surrounding structures.

The Importance of Proper Oral Hygiene

Finally, it’s important to take care of your oral hygiene. Poor dental health can be a contributing factor in TMD symptoms. Make sure to brush, floss, and visit your dentist regularly to keep your teeth as healthy as possible.


TMJ disorder can be associated with a variety of uncomfortable and painful symptoms, including neck pain. It’s important to be aware of the link between the TMJ and neck pain, and the treatment options you may have. By understanding what contributes to TMD symptoms and making the necessary lifestyle changes, you can reduce the effects of TMD and neck pain.