Is there a connection between your neck pain and your TMJ disorder?
The answer is YES.
And this 2017 study using 12 subjects suffering from TMJ with neck pain and 12 control subjects with no neck pain demonstrates why.
EMG Technology Used to Evaluate TMJ
The technology used to perform this study is something called EMG (Electromyography). Electromyography (EMG) is a diagnostic test used to assess the health of muscles and the nerve cells that control them. The results can reveal the dysfunction of muscles or nerves and/or the communicational signal transmitted between the two.
In this study the EMG was used to measure the jaw muscle contractions of the Masseter muscle, a major facial muscle used for chewing. With surface EMG electrodes placed on these muscles the subjects were asked to clench their teeth and relax.
The group of subjects with existing neck pain showed a different distribution of muscle activity compared with the patients without neck pain.
Not only did the neck pain subjects have higher levels of clenching/muscle contraction but the actual muscle activity was more pronounced upward (cranially) and forward (anterior).
What Conclusions can be Drawn?
Christopher J. Centeno, M.D. is an international expert and specialist in regenerative medicine who believes that your TMJ treatment may be through your neck. He says this study, “fits with the hypothesis that these patients are using their jaw muscles to support the head, which leads to tendon problems and TMJ degeneration over time.”
patented neck support pillow design positions the patient away from the face and jaw. We have had many TMJ sufferers find support and TMD relief to minimize pressure on the tender joint during sleep. However, this new study also suggests that the simple neck support offered by the pillow may be another important part of the equation when offering night time relief for TMJ sufferers as well as teeth clenchers (Bruxism sufferers).
Do you think your TMJ discomfort is connected to your neck pain?