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Back pain is a widespread issue that affects millions of individuals worldwide. While there are various known causes of back pain, one often overlooked factor is its association with temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction. TMJ disorders, characterized by pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and surrounding muscles, can surprisingly contribute to back pain.
The temporomandibular joint connects the jawbone to the skull and plays a crucial role in jaw movement during talking, chewing, and other oral functions. When this joint becomes inflamed or strained due to factors like teeth grinding, jaw clenching, or misalignment, it can trigger pain and tension in the surrounding muscles.
Interestingly, the muscles affected by TMJ are not limited to the jaw area alone. The temporomandibular joint is closely connected to the neck, shoulder, and upper back muscles through a network of nerves and tendons. When the TMJ experiences stress or dysfunction, the pain signals can radiate to these connected areas, leading to discomfort in the neck, shoulders, and even the upper back.
While it is frustrating to deal with, it is also important to understand why you are experiencing these symptoms. Some of the most common orthopedic issues as it relates to back pain are the following: muscle spasms, discogenic pain (disc-produced), neurogenic pain (nerve-produced), stenosis (narrowing of the joint space), or restriction in the joints of the spine, to name a few. It is also good to understand that non-orthopedic conditions such as referred pain from other organs, fractures, or cancers can also cause low back pain. Some good starting questions to ask before doing any exercise to self-manage symptoms would be the following:
If the answers to the above questions are “no” then you may benefit from trying a few basic exercises and positions to see if you can improve your low back symptoms. If the answer to any of these questions is yes and your back pain is new onset, then it may be wise to consult with a physician before starting a new program.
The therapists at Miller Concierge Physical Therapy provide a skilled, hands-on approach to identifying the source of pain and treating your neck and back pain to restore function and decrease pain. Recent research has shown physical therapy is a more cost-effective, less invasive option for patients suffering from back pain.
Don't be afraid to reach out for help - it could be the best decision you make. You deserve to find relief from your worries, and a therapist can help you do just that.
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