You may experience neck and jaw pain simultaneously for several reasons. Because the two are connected, what affects one also affects the other.

Because the neck and jaw are connected by joints, it makes sense that you may experience pain in both parts of the body simultaneously. Neck and jaw pain can range from mildly uncomfortable to severe, making it difficult to eat, speak, or sleep.

There are several reasons you may be experiencing concurrent neck and jaw pain.

It could be due to temporomandibular disorders (TMD), which are the joints that connect the lower jaw and skull. Teeth grinding, stress, and in rare cases, life threatening events like a heart attack could also be contributing to neck and jaw pain.

Read on to learn more about what causes simultaneous neck and jaw pain, and how to find relief.

You may experience neck and jaw pain at the same time for many reasons. Here are the most common.

Temporomandibular disorders (TMD)

“Temporomandibular disorders (TMDs)” is an umbrella term that encompasses over 30 conditions that affect the jaw. You may have heard of TMJ as a condition, but the acronym refers to the joints themselves.

If you have a TMJ disorder, you may experience:

  • stiffness in the jaw
  • locking or popping sensation
  • ringing in the ears

While it can be hard to isolate the exact reason for TMJ pain, causes of TMD include:

  • injury to the jaw joint
  • clenching or grinding teeth
  • a displaced disc that helps ease the movements of the jaw
  • arthritis
  • an overworked jaw

Stress and anxiety

It’s not uncommon for stress to have a physical component, including insomnia, digestive issues, or jaw pain.

One 2023 study found that stress, depression, and neck disability commonly exist with temporomandibular disorders. Stress and anxiety can cause jaw clenching, which you may not be aware you’re doing at the moment. Over time, this overworks the jaw muscle, leading to jaw and neck pain.

While the exact relationship between the two is not completely understood, researchers have identified anxiety as a risk factor for developing TMD.


Osteoarthritis (OA) is a type of arthritis that breaks down bone. One sign of OA of the temporomandibular joint is bone spurs that occur in the neck, jaw, or both — causing pain and tenderness. Bone spurs are areas of excess bone.

Additionally, jaw pain that originates in the joint may be caused by arthritis. Spinal arthritis is also commonly felt in the neck (also called neck arthritis). It’s possible to have arthritis in both the jaw and neck, leading to pain in both places.

Sinus infections

If you’ve ever had a sinus infection, you already know how they can make your face hurt. However, feeling sinus pressure in the neck and jaw is also possible.

In fact, one study found that people who said they had sinus headaches also self-reported neck pain. If you find that your jaw and neck pain flares when you’re congested, sinus pressure may be the cause.

Swollen lymph nodes

The head and neck contain over 300 lymph nodes, which is more than half of the nodes in the body. Swollen lymph nodes in the jaw and neck can cause pain when chewing or turning your head. Typically, you’ll be able to feel swollen lymph nodes, which can be as small as a pea or as large as a quarter.

Certain habits

Frequent nail biting, chewing on pens, or chewing gum can also cause strain on the jaw and neck. Typically, this type of concurrent neck and jaw pain will go away on its own once you stop the behavior.


If you injure or dislocate your jaw (which happens when the lower jaw comes out of the temporomandibular joints), you will experience intense neck and jaw pain.

Broken or dislocated jaws are usually caused by injuries to the face and are a medical emergency needing immediate treatment.

Heart attack

You often hear about pain in the left shoulder occurring during a heart attack, but pain in the neck and jaw can also be a symptom of a heart attack, especially for females.

Medical emergency

While it’s rare for concurrent neck and jaw pain to be the only sign of a heart attack, seek emergency medical care immediately if your neck and jaw pain is accompanied by any of the following symptoms:

  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • sweating
  • nausea
  • feeling faint

This can happen for most of the same reasons you may experience jaw and neck pain all over, including:

  • TMDs
  • stress or anxiety
  • habits that make one side of your jaw work harder
  • injury

Shoulder pain that’s accompanied by neck and shoulder pain may be caused by:

  • TMDs
  • neck, shoulder, or jaw injury from sports contact or auto collision
  • stress or anxiety
  • holding tension in the body
  • heart attack, which is a medical emergency

Jaw and neck pain that’s also accompanied by swollen lymph nodes can also be a sign of:

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about neck and jaw pain, and its causes.

Can neck and jaw pain be a sign of a heart attack?

Neck and jaw pain may be a sign of a heart attack. A heart attack can cause pain beyond the chest, including the shoulder, arms, back, neck, and jaw.

However, if you’re experiencing neck and jaw discomfort without other symptoms like chest pain or shortness of breath, it’s unlikely that a heart condition is the root cause of the pain.

Can neck and jaw pain be a sign of COVID-19?

COVID-19 can cause muscle and joint aches, so it’s possible to experience pain or discomfort in the neck and jaw. While uncommon, COVID-19 can cause swollen lymph nodes, leading to neck and jaw pain.

Additionally, clenching the jaw from the stress of the illness may contribute.

Can TMJ disorders come on suddenly?

TMJ disorders can build slowly or come on suddenly. With a sudden onset, typically, the root cause will be physical trauma, while jaw strain from stress, chewing gum, or clenching teeth will typically have a slower onset.

TMJ disorders are common, affecting as many as 10 million Americans. Many will resolve on their own, but if your neck and jaw pain persists or worsens, a doctor can identify the underlying cause.

Additionally, if you experience any dizziness, nausea, or chest pain alongside neck and jaw pain, seek emergency medical care right away.

A doctor will begin with a physical exam and a history of your symptoms. They may be able to diagnose the underlying cause of your neck and jaw pain from that alone, or order imaging tests like X-rays for a possible broken jaw or MRI if they suspect TMDs.

Treatment for neck and jaw pain varies depending on the underlying cause.

Home remedies

In many cases, the symptoms of TMJ disorders can be treated effectively with modifying habits and home remedies, such as:


In some cases, either prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medication may be needed to treat concurrent neck and jaw pain. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen may help reduce discomfort and inflammation. If a sinus infection is the cause of your neck and jaw pain, OTC medication can help relieve pressure.

Prescription pain relievers may be prescribed if the pain is severe and not improving.

Medical treatment

Medical treatments include:

  • Mouthguard: A mouthguard goes over the teeth and helps stop unconscious grinding or clenching at night. You can buy one over the counter at most pharmacies.
  • Muscle relaxers: Muscle relaxers can be a way to find temporary relief from neck and jaw tension. However, these don’t always help people with TMD.
  • OnabotulinumtoxinA (Botox) injections: Given medically, Botox works to relax muscles and may keep your jaw muscles from clenching, which can relieve jaw and neck pain from TMD. Botox for jaw pain is not a permanent solution and will likely require reinjection every few months.
  • Jaw surgery: As a last resort, a doctor may recommend jaw surgery to correct TMDs. Jaw surgery may also be needed in the case of a broken or dislocated jaw. This treatment is usually reserved for people with severe pain that’s due to structural problems in the jaw joint or those with atypical face shape causing TMD.

Numerous issues can cause concurrent jaw and neck pain. If the pain is severe or does not go away on its own within a few days, speak with a doctor to determine the root cause and devise a treatment plan.