Have you ever gotten a headache after you’ve had a stressful day?
This at times can be attributed to tense neck and shoulder muscles, but more often than not, the pain you’re experiencing is from your jaw.
Jaw pain from stress is a common complaint of people with TMJ disorder.
Tense and sore jaw muscles can easily contribute to a headache – not to mention a full-fledged migraine.
Why does stress cause this type of reaction in our muscles, including those in our jaw? And what can people do to find jaw pain relief ASAP?
Jaw Pain from Stress: The Stress-Pain Connection
When we get stressed out, our muscles automatically tense up. Although often unnoticed, this usually includes our facial and jaw muscles specifically.
In addition to tension, stress causes an inflammatory reaction in our body. This can lead to increased pain as well.
When dealing with any sort of pain, our body reacts by tensing up even more.
The pain we experience from stress can be a vicious cycle. As we get stressed and tense up, we notice (or sometimes we don’t) more pain, this can at times cause more stress or tension, and the cycle continues.
If you have a condition called TMJ disorder, the pain you experience from stress can become even more pronounced.
People with TMJ disorder – or temporomandibular joint disorder – tend to clench their teeth a lot. This puts strain on the jaw muscles, making them stiff and sore. At times, the tension can be so intense that it can lead to a headache or even a migraine.
Long-Term Treatment Options That Can Improve Your Quality of Life
Thankfully, jaw pain from stress doesn’t have to rule your life. There are steps you can take to get jaw pain relief.
1. Do What You Can to Reduce the Stress in Your Life
The first thing you need to do is evaluate what’s causing the stress in your life. Then, see if there’s any behaviors you can cut out or alter.
It might be making a career change, eliminating toxic people from your life, or making sure you get enough sleep every night.
Once you remove stressors from your life, it’s shocking just how much jaw pain relief you’ll get.
2. Practice Stress-Reducing Exercises Daily
What can you do to deal with daily stressors? Try implementing these practices:
- Tai Chi
- Deep breathing
- Keep a gratitude journal
3. Exercise Your Head, Neck, and Facial Muscles Regularly
Flexibility is important for every single muscle in our body. This includes your facial muscles.
There are numerous gentle exercises you can do to stretch out tense facial muscles.
Doing these exercises on a regular basis can be a source of jaw pain relief.
4. Talk to Your TMJ Dentist About Long-Term Treatment Options
Part of the reason you have jaw pain from stress could be related to TMJ disorder.
When your teeth are out of alignment, they put the rest of your anatomy out of alignment as well. This puts extra pressure on your facial muscles, as well as your jaw joints.
To fix this, you may need an orthotic appliance or night guard made. These appliances will protect your teeth, muscles, and jaw joint whenever you clench and grind your teeth.
Additionally, you might need orthodontic treatment. This would help us fix the root cause of the problem – the misalignment.
The Steps You Take Today Can Lead to Pain-Free Tomorrows
Reducing your stress is imperative if you want to live a relatively pain-free, happy, healthy life.
Stress is one of the top contributing factors to multiple diseases and health conditions. Stress and stress hormones lead to inflammation, which make the body susceptible to disease.
You cannot eliminate stress overnight, it will take some effort and conscious thought, but taking these necessary steps can prove to not only be good for your health, but also improve your attitude and mental well-being. Not only will this reduce the pain in your jaw and the resulting headaches – it can help change your life.
Reducing stress can lessen your risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S.
Being mindful to focus just a few minutes a day towards anti-stress activities can make a huge difference, and the results compound to add up over time.
Look at what’s causing the stress in your life. See what kind of adjustments you can make – and take action today to make changes as soon as possible. A healthier tomorrow is waiting at your doorstep, it is just a matter of motivating yourself to not only talk-the-talk, but walk-the-walk!
Have you tried stress-reducing techniques but still suffer from jaw pain and/or headaches? We can help. Contact us today for a TMJ evaluation. We’ll help you find short- and long-term solutions for pain relief.