Neck and Back Pain

Dr. Shapira Chicago, Deerfield, Evanston, Highland Park, Kenilworth, Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, Libertyville, Lincolnshire, Mettawa, Morton Grove, Northbrook, Northfield, Skokie, TMJ Neck & Back Pain, Vernon Hills, Wilmette, Winnetka 15 Comments

Relieving Neck and Back Pain Can Make You Sane Again

neck-and-back-pain-chicagoDo you have a stiff neck, back pain, aching shoulders that have been tormenting you for far too long?  Dr. Shapira likes to see patients when their pain is present.  Relieving their pain in a few minutes allows him to understand and diagnose the unique underlying causes of their pain.  Most patients pain even if it has been present for years can be temporarily relieved in just a few minutes.  These few minutes are an important part of the diagnostic process.

Have you been to the doctor to find out what was causing the pain? Suffering from neck, back or shoulder pain day after day certainly isn’t normal. Chronic pain is unlikely to be caused by being tired or overworked.

If you have been unsuccessful at finding effective treatment, it could be you’ve been looking in the wrong place or you have been treating only a part of the problem. Your pain could be caused by a problem in your jaw joints and the surrounding muscles and fascia. These joint complexes are known to be strongly related  neck and back pain when they are not functioning properly. The good news? If these joint complexes are the source of your pain, there may be relief in sight.  These joint complexes are by nature complex.  Understanding the entire physiologic system is necessary to achieve success.  We are not treating just joint moises or just joints.

How your TMJ can be a pain in the neck

Neck, shoulder or  back pain can be caused by a malfunctioning temporomandibular joint (TMJ). This is the joint that is found at both sides of your mouth allowing you to speak and chew through up and down, back and forth, and sideways movements.

It is a sensitive part of your body and, if your bite moves out of alignment, it can lead to significant pain radiating out to all different parts of the body, including the neck, back, and shoulders.  More than half of all input to the brain comes through the trigeminal nerve as it passes through the reticular activating system.

When your jaw is out of alignment, it causes the surrounding muscles to work extra hard to correct the misalignment. As your jaw muscles tire, they recruit other muscles, the ones in your neck, shoulders and back, to help. When they tire, chronic neck, back or shoulder pain is often the result.  Forward head posture is a frequent issue in TMD patients creating significant changes through the entire spine.  These patients frequently are treated by chiropractors, which offer temporary relief. Long term relief entails correction of the underlying causes.

This condition’s medical name is temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). If this is what you are experiencing, you are not alone; TMD affects up to 20 million Americans on a daily basis.

There’s no reason why TMJ can’t be beat

If your TMJ is what’s causing your neck and back pain, there is good reason to believe that it can be resolved with modern physiologic dentistry techniques.

Sometimes, it’s just a matter of elimination. TMJ problems are known to cause painful symptoms, so, when no other diagnosis seems to fit, TMJ should be suspected. With TMJ problems it doesn’t matter how many pain killers you take, they will only give temporary relief. Long-lasting relief comes with TMJ correction that focuses on realigning your bite.  Long term postural correction may require physical therapists , osteopaths or chiropractors working together.

Balance your bite

tmj-neck-biteBy booking a dental appointment, a TMJ diagnosis can be made. The first step your dentist should take is to check your medical records to confirm there isn’t a medical problem behind your neck and back pain.

The next step is to measure your jaw function and relax your jaw’s muscles by massaging them with an electrical stimulator at a low frequency which stimulates the flow of the blood. As soon as the tension has been relieved in your muscles the best position for your bite will be found.

Once relaxed and back in alignment, there are various treatments used to keep your bite in the right position.This can include a custom-made, non invasive orthotic device or diagnostic physiologic orthotic  that is positioned over your teeth to help stabilize your bite, relieving the muscle strain that can create neck and back pain, among other symptoms. Orthodontics and dental restorations are also effective TMJ treatment but in most cases are done following pain relief and physiologic stabilization with the diagnostic orthotic.  The exception is the DNA Appliance that uses epigenetic orthodontics to change phenotypic gene expression.  In special circumstances it can be used as an initial treatment .

Once relieved of your pain, you’ll be amazed at how good it feels to comfortably  move in a pain free fashion again.  Normal physiology and function promotes ongoing health and wellness.

Watch Dr Shapira’s Patient Testimonials:

Comments 15

  1. My neck pain began with the extraction of tooth #18 several years ago. The tooth had undergone a root canal prior to extraction. I began to have pain immediately after the tooth was extracted and it has gotten worse over time until at this time, it is unbearable and encompasses my neck and left shoulder. I don’t seem to be able to find any dentist who can or will help me and I am sure there was TMJ damage at the time of the extraction.

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    There are many issues connected to pain arising after tooth extraction. There may be direct or indirect trauma to the jaw muscles or jaw joint. Difficult extractions could affect the atlas-axis joints. Changes can occur secondary to extended opening of the mandible that can lead to brain inflammation. Activation of myofascial trigger points is more common. Entrapment of pre-brachial plexus nerves between anterior and medial heads of scalene muscles are possible.
    I suggest coming in for a consult as your first step. I will have my team contact you.
    In the meantime please visit my youtube channel to understand what can be done to improve your quality of life.

  3. Does Dr.Shipia know any TMJ specalist in the South Bay Area in California? I’ve got terrible TMJ from 2 accidents I was involved in from direct head & face trauma and whiplash in both cases, which required extractions if 4 teeth 2 top , 1 loose, 6 lower molars are now gone do to being cracked from the face trauma.

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  5. Hi there,

    I have had severe TMJ pain/anxiety/dizzy spells since March of this year. My jaw dislocated on its own in March after decades of minor pain. My MRI shows the discs have moved forward. I have daily jaw/neck/shoulder pain (and even burning sensations in left shoulder/arm.

    I am scheduled for arthroscopic surgery to clean out scar tissue and put in a joint lubricant on 12/7 of this year at UNC Hospital in Chapel Hill.

    I had gone to a TMJ specialist, but the treatments/orthotics did not work very well over the course of 3 months.

    I am getting wary of the surgery, as I feel like all my attempts to relieve this problem has caused more pain/suffering.


    Thank you!

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  7. I have experienced frequent headaches along with jaw, neck, shoulder, and upper back pain for the last four years. I’ve been in the ER countless times in excruciating pain with imaging done multiple times and everything seems to be fine. My labs and imaging are always great. I recently found info on TMD possibly being the cause of my pain. I’m a 29 year old female and have young children to care for, this is ruining my quality of life. I had my wisdom teeth removed a year ago, hoping that was the cause, but it did not relieve my symptoms. Could you tell me what my next step should be? I’m not opposed to traveling.

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    Dear Jennifer,

    I have been treating patients with stories like your for many years. You are a prime candidate as a young mother. I know it is frustrating when lab tests and imagining shows that everything is normal but that is good news. Removing wisdom teeth is rarely an answer and often makes the problems worse.

    It is frequently possible to see significant improvements very quickly and I often see long distance patients. Please visit my youtube channel to hear my patients stories:

    In addition to starting with diagnostic neuromuscular orthotics I address the myofascial pain component and the autonomic nervous system components. I frequently teach patients to self-administer SPG Blocks which can often let you skip trips to the ER and to physicians offices.

    I will post this response and have a team member contact you. I have appointments available in December but I am out of the country for the first two weeks of January.

  9. Hi,
    I started going to a holistic dentist last year. I never had any jaw pain or muscle issues prior. He told me my TMJ was misaligned and I went through the whole procedure like your article describes with the splint and the teeth equilibration but it started making my jaw hurt especially with chewing (which it never had before). I stopped using the splint to try and “relax” my jaw because my jaw tenses up with the splint in. Now several months later, my neck shoulders and upper back are in so much pain I can’t take it any more. Any reasons why I would start having problems with my jaw and neck/back/shoulders ONLY after I did the TMJ adjustments and do you think I just need to wear the splint again more longterm? How long does it take for the adjustment to “stick” and not have to wear it all the time? (I wore it for at least 4 months straight only taking it out to eat). Any advice would be greatly appreciated because I feel like I am desperate and in pain!!! Also, Is there some kind of permanent device you use for patients so they dont have to take it out to eat? Thanks so much!!!

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    Dear Jen,
    I rarely suggest treating a totally non-symptomatic TMJ disordr without a specific reason. Equilibration is a irreversible procedure that should always be approached with great caution. If there is pain that is getting worse instead of better it is probably wiser not to begin equilibration.
    What were you issues causing you to seek a “Holistic Dentist” The head, neck jaw shoulders and spine are all connected. I suspect that you are now dealing with widespread myofascial pain. See to better understand MPD the muscular side of TMD. Wearing a splint long term that causes pain is probably not a good idea.
    Lonfg term “permanent ” device is not a good idea when you are desperate and in so much pain. What were the issues that initially caused you to seek out Holistic Dentist?

  11. Hi,

    My daughter had braces and now suffers from severe TMJ. Here back muscles are so tight she has a hard time standing up straight. This has been going on for 2 years and no one has been able to fix it. They say we might need to break her jaw. I am really concerned and looking for other opinions. We live in VA and at this point I am not sure what to do. Is there a Dr. you could recommend in the area? Please help.
    Mrs. Thomas

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  13. I’ve been suffering extreme pain and muscle spasm every day for 4 years trapezius levator and back of neck since two of my back teeth on my left side were removed after a cavity had traveled to both teeth. The actual muscle on my right jaw is bigger because of overuse probably. No one I’ve been to in my search has helped so I gave up .
    If I rest the muscles enough at night via Ativan I wake up virtually pain free
    But that is a bandaid not a cure
    The pain can be searing and burning enough to make it unbearable but when the muscles relax there is absolutely no pain
    MRI and cat scan done at the time were clear except for normal wear and tear on the neck
    Out of answers and I have a lot of childeren and 2 smalll businesses so rest is not an option
    Want to get back to living my life pain free and understanding what this all is so I don’t feel alone 🙏🏼

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    I can help. I am a firm believer in helping patients both with treatment and with strategies and techniques that let them treat and eliminate their pain on their own. SPG Blocks are one excellent method of decreasing pain and anxiety and self administration allows you to avoid doctor visits. They also help you get restful sleep. Neuromuscular Dentistry is one of the beth methods to create a diagnostic appliance that allows you to correct jaw issues and reset the neuromuscular system. There are many video testimonials at this link or a wide variety of issues. Different techniques are used for different types of issues and many patients have overlapping issues & treatments.

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