Jaw pain – symptoms causes and other complications


Jaw pain and facial pain are very common problems which are affecting many people all around the world. This condition causes many treatment challenges in the healthcare community when it comes to treatment and diagnosis. There are many potential causes for jaw pain and this is a reason why to discover the real cause for it. Your doctor needs to discover the real cause for it because in this way they will give the best treatment.

Symptoms of jaw pain

Symptoms of jaw pain can vary depending on the cause. They may include:

  • Facial swelling
  • Fever
  • Nerve – type pain, such as burning
  • Tension headaches
  • Toothache
  • Vertigo
  • Becoming overly sensitive to pain
  • Dull aching to sharp stabbing pain
  • Jaw locking
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches with or without ear pain and pressure behind the eyes
  • Earaches
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Clicking or popping sounds with opening or closing the jaw
  • Jaw alignment issues
  • Limited range of motion
  • Joint and muscle tenderness
  • Facial pain that worsens when the jaw is used

Also there can be other symptoms that may be present and they will depend on the cause for this condition. It is very important for people to seek for medical help because their doctors can find the cause for this condition and they can give them a proper diagnosis. When you take your treatment in its early stages, then it can help you in the protection from further complications. Doctors, oral surgeons and dentists are able to evaluate the jaw pain.

Jaw pain

Causes of jaw pain

There are many possible causes of this condition and they can related to blood vessel problems, nerve problems or physical injury. TMJ – temporomandibular joint disorder is the most commonly reported cause of jaw pain [1]. This condition is affecting up to 12% of people. Nearly 5% seek medical treatment due to the severity of this problem. TMJ is mostly affecting women of childbearing age. [2] TMJ is describing disorders of the temporomandibular joints and the muscles which are responsible for jaw movements. These muscles are known as masticatory muscles. Also there are other causes of jaw pain and they include conditions such as:

  • Neurovascular pain: This type of pain is caused by conditions which are affecting both the nerves and blood vessels such as cluster headaches and migraines. [3]
  • Vascular pain: This type of pain is happening when the supply of blood to part of your body is disrupted. It is caused by conditions which are inducing giant cell arteritis and carotid artery dissection. [4]
  • Neuropathic pain: This type of long – term pain is happening when our nerves become damaged and they send pain signals to your brain. This pain can occur from time to time or it can be continuous. [5]
  • Tension type headaches: Tension headaches are usually caused by stress and they can lead to facial pain. [6]
  • Sinus problems: These conditions are affecting the nasal cavities.
  • Dental conditions: These conditions can include abscesses, damaged teeth, tooth gaps, cavities and gum disease. [7]
  • Synovitis or capsulitis: These are conditions in which the lining of your joint or a connecting ligament is becoming inflamed. [8]
  • Arthritis: Arthritis conditions such as osteoarthrosis and osteoarthritis which are leading to the surface of bones wearing away. [9]
  • Osteomyelitis: This is a condition where there is an infection in the body affects the bones and associated tissues.
  • Teeth grinding, clenching or opening the mouth too wide: Most often, teeth grinding and clenching is experienced during sleep and it can lead to tooth damage and jaw pain. This condition can also occur during periods of increased emotional stress. [10]

Pain can be also caused by lifestyle – related factors in which are included tiredness, a lack of certain nutrients, sleep disturbances and emotional distress. Also there are other conditions which can cause jaw and facial pain and they include fibromyalgia, lupus, multiple sclerosis, Lyme disease, hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis and some mental health conditions.

Complications: Complications vary based on the cause and other factors which are associated with your pain and also are included the treatments that are used. Here are the complications of jaw pain:

  • Changes in eating habits [11]
  • Emotional distress [12]
  • Chronic pain
  • Infection
  • Surgical complications [13]
  • Dental complications [7]


[1] Yadav S, Yang Y, Dutra EH, et al. Temporomandibular joint disorders in the elderly and aging population. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2018;66(6):1213–7.

[2] Yadav S, Yang Y, Dutra EH, et al. Temporomandibular joint disorders in older adults. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2018;66(6):1213–7.

[3] Romero-Reyes M, Uyanik JM. Orofacial pain management: current perspectives. Journal of Pain Research. 2014;7:99–115.

[4] Zakrzewska JM. Facial pain: Neurological and non-neurological. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry. 2002;72:ii27-ii32.

[5] Colloca L, Ludman T, Bouhassira D, et al. Neuropathic pain. Nature Reviews Disease Primers. 2017;3:17002.

[6] Hassan M, Asaad T. Tension-type headache, its relation to stress, and how to relieve it by cryotherapy among academic students. Middle East Current Psychiatry. 2020;27.

[7] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. TMJ disorders. Retrieved from www.nidcr.nih.gov/sites/default/files/2017-12/tmj-disorders.pdf

[8] Gauer RL, Semidey MJ. Diagnosis and treatment of temporomandibular disorders. American Family Physician. 2015;91(6):378-86.

[9] Sodhi A, Naik S, Pai A, Anuradha A. Rheumatoid arthritis affecting temporomandibular joint. Contemporary Clinical Dentistry. 2015;6(1):124–7.

[10] Wieckiewicz M, Paradowska-Stolarz A, Wieckiewicz W. Psychosocial aspects of bruxism: The most paramount factor influencing teeth grinding. BioMed Research International. 2014;2014:469187.

[11] Fujita Y, Maki K. Association of feeding behavior with jaw bone metabolism and tongue pressure. Japanese Dental Science Review. 2018;54(4):174–82.

[12] Ahuja V, Ranjan V, Passi D, Jaiswal R. Study of stress-induced temporomandibular disorders among dental students: An institutional study. National Journal of Maxillofacial Surgery. 2018;9(2):147–54.

[13] Politis C, Jacobs R, De Laat A, De Grauwe A. TMJ surgery following orthognathic surgery: A case series. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Cases. 2018;4(2):39-52.


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