Living with neck and shoulder pain can really cramp your style
Your neck, shoulder, and back muscles work as a team. In fact, throughout your body, rarely does a single muscle work without other muscles in the team joining in.
Lethbridge dentist Dr. Lachman describes one cause of neck and shoulder pain: “Often, when muscles are overworked, they will engage additional muscles. This is known as muscle recruitment. The recruitment of other muscles creates an imbalance, which can result in neck and shoulder pain.”
Strained muscles can cause poor posture
When a muscle is overused, it can affect other muscles, such as the ones that hold up your head and support your shoulders and back.
The bones in your neck, especially the atlas and axis, work closely with the muscles that control your jaw, breathing and head posture. Sore, tight, contracted muscles of the jaw can tilt the head and shoulders causing over-compensation of the neck, shoulder and back muscles.
Here’s how it all plays out:
- When your head is centered, your spinal column is straight
- Muscle tension can shift the head away from the center
- To compensate the spine begins to buckle
- Postural distortion develops as the shoulders and hips begin to tip
Try this visualization
Picture a bowling ball balanced on top of a broom stick, and held in place by a rubber bands. This is similar to how your head is balanced atop your spine.
- When muscles are tense they shorten, so imagine shortening one of those rubber bands
- To compensate, some rubber bands will have to stretch while others will shorten
- As a result, the bowling ball (your head) is thrown off kilter
When even just one jaw, neck or shoulder muscle is off-kilter all of your other muscles must compensate to keep your head balanced on top of your spinal column. In this scenario, your overworked muscles can become strained causing sore, tender, muscles your neck, shoulders and back.
The issue with poor head posture
- Because this patient’s head is too far forward, it is improperly positioned over the shoulders, and is not centered over the spinal column. This head posture can cause constant neck tightness, neck and shoulder pain, and daily headaches.
- The red line in the picture shows how the ear hole is positioned forward of the shoulders. In a normal posture, the ear hole would be straight over the shoulders.
- The lower jaw is out of position in relation to the skull
When an issue with your jaw causes chronic neck and shoulder pain, you may find go-to treatments such as physiotherapy or chiropractic care ineffective. This is because, as long as your jaw is out of proper position, the therapy often doesn’t have a lasting effect.
If the lower jaw is not properly balanced to the skull, symptom relapse can occur rapidly.
TMJD can cause a ripple effect throughout the top half of your body. Correcting your bite so that your muscles can work properly can be the difference between living with muscle discomfort or not.
Will TMJD treatment help you?
Over time, the impacts of TMJD can worsen. If your bite is misaligned, the sooner it is corrected the better. If you would like to learn more about treatment options for neck and shoulder pain, please schedule a TMJ consultation with Dr. Lachman.