Stress Can Cause Jaw Pain, Neck Pain and Headaches

Dr. Bryan Stephens


Jaw pain affects over 10 million of people in the US.  And while there are many different reasons for this, teeth grinding is a major culprit.  Up to one third of adults grind their teeth during the day and more than one out of ten grind their teeth at night.  What causes all these people to grind their teeth?  For many of us, it is the stress of our daily grind (pardon the pun).  With the stress, many people start clenching their jaw which puts added pressure on the teeth and the temporomandibular joint (tmj) which creates temporomandibular disorders (TMD).  Along with the pain in jaw itself, there are trigger points that can develop in many of the muscles surrounding the jaw including the temporalis muscle.  There are many headaches where the cause is tension from the tmj and temporalis muscle due to excess stress and clenching of the jaw.  I have been discussing this with a couple of my patients dealing with jaw pain and headaches and finding what they do to manage their stress at home.

The key is finding what works best for you.  For me, I do different breathing techniques to calm my mind and cut the perception of stress when I feel it building.  I breathe in slowly for four seconds, hold my breath for seven seconds, and breathe out slowly for eight seconds.  After two or three repetitions, I no longer feel like my shoulders are up to my ears and I feel less tension throughout my neck, back, and head.  Some other things I have found to work include journaling, meditating, praying, calming music, and of course we can’t forget about going for a walk.  Whatever it is that you find works best for you, add it into your daily routine.  Keeping stress down will not only help keep the pain and clenching down, but it keeps the inflammation at bay and can help slow the degenerative process that occurs when the swelling is present for chronic periods of time.



Angelina R. Sutin, Antonio Terracciano, Luigi Ferrucci, Paul T. Costa, Teeth grinding: Is Emotional Stability related to bruxism?, Journal of Research in Personality, Volume 44, Issue 3, 2010, Pages 402-405, ISSN 0092-6566,

Our Message

We love to help our patients in Dallas stay healthy. We are here to relieve back pain, neck pain and headaches while also teaching about how our diet and stress effects our over all health. Taking care of your mental health is just as important as the chiropractic adjustment and getting the proper nutrients to stay healthy. Our Chiropractors, near the corner of Mockingbird Ln. and Abrams Rd., want to help you stay healthy and out of pain!