One out of every 12 people in the United States is affected with jaw pain disorder. It accounts for 12% of the entire US population, equivalent to 35 million people.
This condition is called temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. To help you better understand the medical term, TMJ is a medical joint that connects the jawbone to the skull.
There are many causes of jaw pain, such as toothache, sinus problems, heart attack, cluster headaches, and anxiety.
Some causes have core medical treatments to heal the disorder, but the treatment approach needs to be slightly different for jaw pain from anxiety.
People tend to involuntarily strain their jaws more frequently when they’re under stress, depression, and anxiety. As a result, the unwanted force on the connected joint develops pain sensations.
If you’re worried about your sudden pain in the jaw right after you’re into deep anxiety for a long time, then be assured that it can be healed. All you need to understand is how anxiety is triggering it and then try out the remedies to overcome it.
And this article will help you with a detailed explanation of jaw discomfort, its relation to anxiety, and ways to overcome both disorders.
Causes of Jaw Discomfort
Your TMJ takes the blow every time a strain is imposed on your jaws. When you visit your doctor with the symptoms, they’ll first diagnose you and determine the root cause of it. Whether it’s anxiety, physical trauma, gum disease, or any other chronic disease, the right remedy can be determined only when the root cause is identified.
So, before you head out to your doctor, it’s better to have a theoretical idea of the possible causes of jaw pain:
Just like any other bone of your body, if the TMJ experiences a physical trauma such as an injury during sports or any critical accident, then it might cause pain, swelling, bruises, or knocked-out teeth.
If your jaw pain is due to a low-intensity trauma, then medications will do the healing. But critical damage might need surgery for a complete cure.
If you’re suffering from common dental issues, jaw pain might be a recurring symptom for them. Some of those dental issues that might hamper the TMJ joints or develop jaw pain symptoms are:
- Gum disease
- Misaligned teeth
- Growing wisdom teeth
- Toothache due to abscess or cavity
- Cracked, crowded, or sensitive teeth
- Jaw clenching or teeth grinding habit
If you’re experiencing any of such problems, seek a doctor’s help immediately to counteract the symptoms and eliminate them at the earliest opportunity.
If you’re suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, it will also affect your TMJ joint. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks your healthy tissues mistakenly and swells them up.
Such conditions damage the cartilage around your jaws, which keeps the movements smooth. As a result, the jaws might be sore and will feel stiff.
Sinuses are cavities next to the jaw point, which consists of air. When they incorporate infections with a bacterium or a virus, then excessive mucus might develop, which will pressurize the jaw joint and cause pain.
Heart attack triggers pain symptoms in the chest area and around the back, neck, arms, and jaw. It’s common for women as they commonly experience jaw pain on the left side of their faces during a heart attack. It’s a medical emergency and needs immediate action if jaw pain is followed by chest discomfort, sweating, nausea, and breath shortness.
Jaw pain from anxiety might not be a medical issue at first but might escalate to worsen the patient’s condition, making it irreversible. Therefore, anxiety attacks should also be treated as they force you to strain muscles across various body parts, including the jaw area. Hence, prolonged muscle strain might cause chronic jaw pain.
Symptoms of Jaw Tension
When you experience jaw tension anxiety, it might come to you in various initiating ways. So, you must have an idea concerning all the symptoms you might encounter with TMJ disorder:
- Jaw locking
- Ringing ears
- Vision problems
- Constant headaches
- Pain while chewing food
- Aching around the face and jaws
- Clicking sound while opening the mouth
These are the symptoms that might indicate the poor health of your hinge joint around the jaw. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, consult your doctors today before the root cause of it becomes critical.
Symptoms of Anxiety
As stated earlier, anxiety is one of the evident reasons that might trigger jaw pain symptoms. So, to assess if you’re in some form of anxiety which is in return developing pain sensation in your jaws, here are some of the anxiety symptoms for you to co-relate:
- Sleep disorders
- Feeling fatigued
- Irritated mind-set
- Speech difficulties
- Frequent headaches
- Worrying all the time
- Problem in concentrating
- Restlessness and frustration
- Light-headedness and dizziness
These are some common symptoms you’ll face when anxiety hits you. Irrespective of the root cause of anxiety, the symptoms can escalate to deteriorate your overall health conditions. Jaw pain isn’t the only disorder you might experience, as anxiety can trigger the nervous system and mental health-related issues.
Link Between Anxiety and Jaw Tension
We know that anxiety or stress affects our ability to make a decision, and we get stuck only with the thought of our problems. Our mind never intends to find a solution to it, but we keep thinking about the problems and their negative repercussions. Healthcare professionals believe that anxiety is a mood state where people are stressed thinking about the future.
As a result, anger, frustration, headache, and other such emotions make us tightly clench muscles on various parts of the body, especially facial muscles. When this is frequent in your anxiety case, you’ll lose control over the muscles that help you open or close the jaw.
You can also check can stress cause spotting.
How to Get Rid of Anxiety Jaw Pain?
If you’re sure of the fact that your jaw pain condition is due to stress and anxiety, then here are a few of the evident ways to get rid of the root cause and also stabilize the jaw pain symptoms:
Regular exercise has the potential to help people deteriorate stress and anxiety symptoms. High-intensity exercises are deemed fit for the purpose, but if you’re not into it, try low-intensity work to get used to the pace of stress-relieving exercises.
The key to attaining relaxation can be achieved through meditation as well. Take meditation classes or learn the techniques online to experience relief from anxiety. Mindfulness training and yoga can be ideal techniques to start with.
Medications are effective in treating anxiety symptoms internally. Antidepressants such as serotonin or norepinephrine are reuptake inhibitors doctors prescribe for anxiety disorders. Along with them, doctors also prescribe beta-blockers and benzodiazepines for anti-anxiety medications.
At times, medications and meditation won’t be enough to help you control your anxious emotions. In such cases, you’ll need professional help from a psychotherapist. He/she won’t just treat your anxiety disorder but will help you learn to deal with it the next time it hits you.
They prefer acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). It will be a slower process but will eventually heal your stress and anxiety problems from the root.
Limit Substance Misuse
If you’re into substance misuse, such as smoking, alcohol, caffeine, or recreational drugs, stop consuming them at once.
Relieving Jaw Pain
Now that you know how to deal with your stressful or anxious situations, it’s time to treat the jaw pain symptoms. There are various ways for you to approach recovery of your jaw health, which include:
Jaw Tension Relieving Exercises
Muscle exercises help you deal with jaw tightness in an appropriate healing pattern to relieve the tension on your jaws. Common exercises include slow muscular movements or massaging tense parts of your jaw.
First, you must rest the tip of your tongue on your upper jaw right behind the front teeth. Now, stretch the bottom jaw downwards to ensure that the lower teeth are far away from the upper teeth. While you’re doing this, make sure the jaw muscle is in a relaxed state and isn’t under any strain.
To execute the goldfish workout, you must press your tongues against the mouth’s roof. Use your index finger of one hand on the chin while the index finger of the other hand is on your TMJ. Spot your TMJ in the area where there lies a joint that connects the lower jaw to the skull.
Lower the bottom jaw with your index finger as far as possible from the upper jaw. Close your mouth and then repeat the exercise.
As the name suggests, you’ll apply resistance to your upper and lower jaw to free up the stiff muscles. For that, use your right hand to hold the chin’s tip in such a way that the thumb should rest under it and the index finger around the frontal area.
Gently push the right hand against your jaw. Now, open your jaw slowly as you continue to gently push the jaw against your chin. Hold onto this position for the next few seconds, then close your mouth slowly.
Doctors prescribe mouthguards to people that are wearable remedies for patients with jaw pain symptoms. These guards will protect your teeth and prevent you from grinding teeth due to anxiety issues or other behavioral problems.
Biofeedback therapy is the process where electrical instruments are used to track the muscle activity around the jaw and mouth. If there are any involuntary functions taking place within your body, then you’ll have the insight into deciding on the steps to omit this behavior.
Limit Your Anxiety and Nurture Your Health Attributes: FAQs
Can Anxiety Cause Jaw Pain?
Yes, anxiety causes jaw pain. Anxiety forces us to strain the muscles of our body, especially the facial muscles. It’s because, whether you’re angry, frustrated, or worried, jaw muscle movements are mandatory to give respective expressions on your face.
Hence, if this unwanted strain on the muscles is too frequent, it damages the hinge joint that connects your jaw to the skull. Thus, the pain symptoms arise.
How Can I Calm My Jaw from Anxiety?
You’ll have to treat both anxiety and jaw pain symptoms to get rid of the problem. The treatments should go simultaneously. Maintain a regular exercise habit to prevent stress and anxiety from worsening your mental health. Also, try the respective jaw relief exercises to heal your pain symptoms.
You can also take behavior and biofeedback therapy to treat anxiety and jaw pain. There are medications for both of these conditions that you must consume only with a doctor’s prescription.
Can Anxiety and Depression Cause Jaw Pain?
Yes, anxiety and depression can cause jaw pain! Anxiety and depression share the same attributes of troubling mental health. Not all emotional reactions associated with depression might lead to clenching of jaws, but almost all anxiety attacks have that in common.
You must understand the negative weightage of stress and anxiety on your body. This article has covered the core understanding of how anxiety triggers health adversities in your body, starting with jaw pain. Along with the possible causes, you must learn about the ways you can get relief from these conditions. And we have addressed them in brief for you.
The next time anxiety hits you, you’ll be able to control it and not let it affect your muscles, nervous system, or mental health. Apart from jaw pain, can stress cause a hernia? Or can stress cause kidney stones? People are keen to learn what else stress and anxiety can do to mankind. We have also answered these questions for you!
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