What Causes Ear, Jaw, and Neck Pain?


Do you suffer from ear, jaw, and neck pain issues? When you eat or talk, have you ever heard any popping or clicking sounds coming from your jaw joints? Ear, jaw, and neck pain can frequently occur together. Learn the connection between your ear, jaw, and neck in this article.

What Could Be Causing Your Ear, Jaw, and Neck Pain?

People experience pain in the ear, jaw, and neck simultaneously for many reasons. Even if these body parts are different, they are very close to each other not just anatomically but in other ways as well. The pain could be originating from any of these three locations and referring pain to the others.

If you experience pain in those areas with facial swelling, you might be suffering from temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. It is also known as TMD.

What Happens When You Have TMD?

TMD happens when the jaw becomes misaligned. Also, when there is a strain on the muscles or tendons that control the jaw movement. The temporomandibular joint functions as a hinge that connects the lower jaw to the skull. Frequently, it’s quite tricky to verify how a person develops TMD. However, here are the common reasons why people may have TMD:

  • Misalignment of the jaw or teeth
  • Injury to the teeth or jaw
  • Too much stress
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Sleep apnea
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

If you continue to ignore your ear, jaw, and neck pain, in due time, they can be worse. Thus, it would cause more damage to your jaw joint.

Other Possible Causes of Ear, Jaw, and Neck Pain

Below are some conditions that cause pain in your jaw, ears, and neck:

1. Teeth Grinding

If you grind your teeth excessively, even when you are not eating, you may end up with a TMJ disorder. Thus, it causes you to experience ear, jaw, and neck pain. This condition can:

  • Affect the way your teeth align
  • Erode your teeth
  • Strain your jaw muscles
  • Break down your TMJ

There is also a tendency for some people to grind their teeth at night while sleeping. Most individuals do not realize they are doing this until pain or another symptom begins to develop.

2. Migraines

When pain is present in your ear, jaw, and near the TMJ area, it can trigger migraines. Migraine attacks are relentless headaches that can reoccur anytime. As a result, those with migraines become more sensitive to sound, light, and certain smells.

3. Swimmer’s Ear

It is a condition that happens when bacteria form in the outer ear due to water exposure or specific injury. Anyone can get this condition, usually from swimming or if an object damages your ear’s lining. The symptoms will only get worse if the situation is left untreated. Thus, it can lead to further ear and jaw pain.

4. Osteoarthritis

Ear, jaw, and neck pain may also be due to osteoarthritis. It is the most common type of arthritis in the TMJ. This kind of condition develops due to wear and tear of the cartilage surrounding the jaw joint. Also, you may experience stiffness combined with pain in the joint as well.

5. Psoriatic Arthritis Or Rheumatoid Arthritis

These forms of arthritis happen when your immune system attacks your healthy joints. Both rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis are autoimmune conditions. You are prone to experience joint pain throughout your body at different times of the day. The pain extends to your TMJ, and there are specific triggers that can cause the pain to flare-up.

6. Sinusitis

People with sinusitis also experience ear, jaw, and neck pain. It is a condition that can appear when you have allergies or a cold. It causes your nasal passages to become inflamed and irritated. The infection is frequently due to a virus. However, you can also acquire bacterial sinusitis.

7. Dental Issues

When an individual has periodontal disease, cavities, and dental abscesses, they can damage the mouth and beyond that, especially when left untreated. Further, if bacteria build up on your teeth and gums, they can lead to ear, jaw, and neck pain

Misalignment in the Upper Neck Causes Various Health Issues

Other common reason for ear, jaw, and neck pain is a misalignment in the upper neck. If you have a history of head or neck injuries then this is likely the cause. What can cause misalignment of the bones in the upper neck region?

Here are some of the reasons: 

  • Car accident
  • A simple trip, slide, and fall incident
  • Whiplash – an unexpected jerking of the head can cause neck trauma
  • Sporting injury
  • Any trauma or injury to the neck or head
  • Concussion

A misaligned vertebra or bone in the upper cervical spine would not just cause neck pain. Misalignment would also affect the brainstem causing it to malfunction. As a result, it would be a reason for various health problems such as migraines, back pain, TMD, and even fibromyalgia to occur.

Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care and Lasting Pain Relief

Today, upper cervical chiropractors use technological advances and scientific measurements to detect and plan for precise corrections of any upper cervical misalignments. Upper cervical chiropractic care provides relief and care to patients who suffer from various chronic pains and other health issues caused by problems found in the upper cervical spine.

Upper cervical care is precise, safe, and non-intrusive. The method is exact and very gentle. As a result, corrections allow the bones to return to correct positions, resulting in lasting alignment. Thus, neck pain patients feel immediate relief and significant improvement. They also experience even better results in a matter of days as the body continually heals from the damage caused by the misalignment. 

Upper Cervical Care Ear, Jaw, and Neck Pain Research

Several studies have found a strong correlation between upper cervical spinal misalignments and TMJ disorders. A retrospective case series looked at 14 patients with TMD and found an average 80% reduction in symptoms after receiving upper cervical chiropractic care over 14 visits.

Another study explained how misalignment of the atlas vertebra (C1) can cause asymmetry in muscle tension and posture, leading to imbalances in jaw movement and TMJ issues. The article states that upper cervical chiropractors can use specific adjustments to realign the atlas and restore proper function between the neck and jaw.

Research has also validated the strong connection between jaw dysfunction, neck disability, and muscle tenderness. One study found that jaw and neck issues are highly correlated, around 82% . This highlights the importance of treating the cervical spine and jaw/mouth as a functional unit.

In addition, upper cervical chiropractic has been shown to help alleviate other symptoms associated with TMJ, such as headaches, neck pain, and shoulder pain. By addressing misalignments in the upper cervical spine, upper cervical chiropractors can promote natural healing and improve overall spinal health.

Overall, the research indicates that upper cervical chiropractic care can be an effective, non-invasive treatment option for patients suffering from TMJ disorders and related conditions affecting the jaw, neck, and surrounding areas. The specialized adjustments performed by upper cervical chiropractors aim to correct the underlying spinal misalignments contributing to these issues.

The optimum health of the whole spine is highly reliant on how perfectly positioned the uppermost vertebra is. Experience a life full of hope and free from pain. Find an upper cervical specialist near you soon.

Find An Upper Cervical Doctor in Your Area

to schedule a consultation today.

Find an Upper Cervical Specialist In Your Area

to schedule a consultation today.

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The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.