Easy to follow techniques to relax your jaw and relieve neck pain
Jaw clenching and grinding, also known as bruxism, is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. While it is well known that bruxism can cause headaches, tooth damage, and jaw pain, many people are unaware of the fact that it can also contribute to neck pain.
In this article, we will explore the connection between bruxism and neck pain, and what you can do to find relief.
How Bruxism Can Lead to Neck Pain
Bruxism is characterized by the grinding or clenching of the teeth, which can put a significant amount of pressure on the jaw and neck muscles. This constant tension can cause the muscles in the jaw and neck to become tight and painful. Over time, this can lead to chronic neck pain and discomfort.
I can't say how many clients I see at the office for neck pain, and they don't know they are clenching their jaw. Just yesterday I had a client I usually see for entire body maintenance. After only releasing her jaw, not just her neck did feel better, but also the rest of her body. It just relaxed.
Symptoms of Bruxism-Related Neck Pain
If you suffer from bruxism, you may experience a range of symptoms related to neck pain, including:
- Tension and tightness in the neck and jaw muscles
- Pain and discomfort in the neck and jaw area
- Stiffness and reduced mobility in the neck
- Headaches, especially in the morning
- Shoulder pain
- Tingling or numbness in the neck, arms, and hands
Bruxism is often associated with stress and anxiety, and the act of grinding or clenching the teeth is a physical manifestation of these emotions. When we experience stress, the body's natural response is to release hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, which cause the muscles to tense up. These includes the muscles in the jaw and neck.
The most common muscles that are involved in clenching and grinding are:
- 1Masseter: Is responsible for closing the jaw and is one of the strongest muscles in the body.
- 2Temporalis: Covers the temples and is responsible for chewing and grinding.
- 3Sternocleidomastoid: Is in the neck and responsible for rotating and flexing the head.
- 4Trapezius: This muscle extends from the neck to the shoulders and is responsible for moving the shoulder blades and supporting the head.
- 5Levator Scapulae: Located in the neck and is responsible for moving the shoulder blade and rotating the neck.
Treatment for Bruxism-Related Neck Pain
Fortunately, there are several treatment options available for those who suffer from bruxism-related neck pain. Some of the most effective include:
- Relaxation techniques: Practicing relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and meditation, can help relieve tension in the neck and jaw muscles and reduce the likelihood of bruxism. (see a video below)
- Jaw exercises: Specific exercises designed to stretch and strengthen the jaw and neck muscles can help relieve pain and improve mobility.
- Wear a night guard: If you grind your teeth at night, wearing a night guard can help protect your teeth and reduce the strain on your jaw and neck muscles.
- Seek professional help: If your bruxism-related neck pain is severe or persistent, it is important to seek help from a specialist. There are several self-help techniques I teach to my patients so they can use it as a maintenance and prevention tool. Book a 15 min complimentary session here and learn few techniques.
Bruxism is a common condition that can have a significant impact on your overall health and well-being. If you suffer from jaw clenching and grinding, it is important to be aware of the potential link to neck pain and to seek help if you are experiencing discomfort or pain. With the right treatment, it is possible to find relief and improve your quality of life.