ZocdocAnswersIs there a relationship between jaw pain and shoulder or upper back pain?

Question

Is there a relationship between jaw pain and shoulder or upper back pain?

About a weak ago, while brushing my teeth, I opened my mouth really wide. After that, I noticed that there was slight numbness on the left lower jaw line and around the mandible fossa. Today, while chewing a tortilla chip and carrots, the left gum lines felt numb again. I felt pain in the left zygoma process. Finally, I heard a pop sound on the left side. I sang this morning and felt no pain or resistance. At other times, I feel like there's resistance and pain at the temporal process of zygomatic bone area. I feel a dull pain in the back molars. I also noticed that pain I had in my left clavicle and upper back area suddenly returned. The pain is something I noticed over past few weeks. It was there on Monday. However, I did not feel any pain for most of the day until last night. The pain was there before my jaw problem started.

Answer

It sounds like you have been having several concerning and bothersome symptoms recently, all of which you should discuss with your primary care physician. It is certainly possible that they are related, and hopefully you can get to the bottom of this soon. The jaw pain that you describe could be related to a problem with the temporomandibular joint, ie TMJ. This is a common problem that is exacerbated with opening one's mouth widely. If you are someone who grinds his or her teeth at night, you may also be more susceptible to irritation of this joint. The pain in your shoulder or upper back could also be due to several things. You could have an intrinsic problem with the shoulder joint (rotator cuff, labrum) or a muscle strain around the scapula. The connection between the shoulder and the clavicle can also be problematic, particularly if you've had any trauma to the area lately (can cause a shoulder separation). Finally, it is also possible for pressure or impingement of the spinal nerves which can cause neck or back pain. This seems more unlikely in your case because you are not experiencing any concurrent numbness or tingling, but given your multiple new symptoms, the best thing to do would be to see your primary care physician right away for evaluation and possible referral to an orthopedic specialist and/or a dentist.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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