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Marshall James Nev, PLC | How Do Jaw Muscles Cause Pain in the Back of the Head? in Richmond

Lexington-Richmond Headache Clinic
Marshall James Ney, DMD, FAAOP
Fellow American Academy of Oral Facial Pain

527 W. Main St.
Richmond, 40475
(859) 623-3761

How Do Jaw Muscles Cause Pain in the Back of the Head?

To answer this, let's think of the head as a teeter-totter, with your spine as the fulcrum.

If you tense up the muscles in the front of the fulcrum (in your spinal column), then we have a counter balance.

These counter balance muscles are in the back of your neck (cervical spine).


Some Head and Neck Muscles


To illustrate this, lets look at an EMG (electromyogram) which measures electric currents in muscle. You may already be familiar with how the line in an EKG monitor is flat until the heart beats, at which point there there is a peak caused by the electric current in the heart muscle.


The graph below shows the relationship between the jaw muscles and the muscles in the back of the neck. A green electrode pad is placed on the masseter muscle (cheek muscle) and a blue electrode is placed on the back of the neck (Trapezius muscle). We see a perfect correspondence between the two muscles. Every time the green (jaw muscle) peaks, the blue (back of the neck) muscle peaks as well.

green contract = blue contract
green relax = blue relax


Now can you understand the anatomical relationship (see the model of the jaw image above) and the physiological (EMG) relationship of the the masticatory muscles (chewing muscles). If the muscles aren't balanced or are too weak, they can can trigger headache.

Of course, always remember that almost all headaches have multiple causes for their pain.


Richmond Dentist | How Do Jaw Muscles Cause Pain in the Back of the Head?. Marshall James Ney is a Richmond Dentist.