TMJ is a common cause of neck pain. In part, that’s because TMJ is relatively common in the population, affecting from 5% to 12% of Americans. This condition tends to affect more women than men. Women are at an even higher risk if they are using hormonal birth control or taking hormone supplements.
TMJ is a group of jaw disorders that affect the joints, muscles, nerves, and more of the jaw system. The three main types of TMJ are:
- Myofascial pain disorder (MPD)
- Disc displacement (DD)
- Degenerative joint disease (DJD)
Myofascial pain disorder is the most common type of TMJ. It occurs when an imbalance in the jaw system causes strain in the jaw muscles. As a result of the strain, the jaw muscles experience pain. As the jaw muscles strive to restore balance, they can cause damage to the rest of the jaw system, including the teeth, bones, joints, and more.
In disc displacement, the cushioning disc slips out from between the two bones in the joint (the temporal bone of the skull and the mandible). This causes irregular motion of the jaw joint, accompanied by jaw sounds, and potentially jaw pain. Eventually, this can lead to a locked jaw.
DJD occurs when the jaw joints develop arthritis. This can include osteoarthritis linked to age or autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis. The joints might experience pain, limited function, joint sounds, and, eventually, a locked jaw.
TMJ causes neck pain because the muscles of the jaw and the neck work together. When one is dealing with dysfunction, it demands support from the other.
Neck pain is one of the most common TMJ symptoms. About 70% of people with TMJ experience neck pain.