Causes of Jaw & Arm Pain

There are numerous causes of jaw and arm pain. According to MedlinePlus, jaw and teeth pain, along with arm pain, may signal a serious medical condition or event such as a heart attack. On the other hand, the pain may be indicative of less serious problems. Jaw and arm pain often self-resolve or respond favorably to conservative care.

A woman has jaw pain. (Image: serdjophoto/iStock/Getty Images)

Angina

Angina can cause jaw and arm pain. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, or the NHLBI, angina is chest pain or discomfort that manifests when the heart does not get sufficient oxygenated blood. Common symptoms associated with angina include radiating pain in the back, neck, shoulders, jaw and arms. The NHLBI notes that although the occurrence of angina in men and women is equal, women may experience jaw and arm pain more frequently. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, or CSMC, states that the condition of fatty deposits in the coronary arteries is one of the main causes of angina. Not everyone who has coronary artery blockage or disease has angina. CSMC notes that angina, along with jaw and arm pain, may also be caused by severe anemia--decreased red blood cells or hemoglobin--or severe hypertension, or high blood pressure.

Trigger Points

Myofascial trigger points, or MFTPs, can cause jaw and arm pain. The Mayo Clinic website states that myofascial pain and pain in the muscles and the connective tissue that surrounds them often centers on trigger points--hypersensitive nodules or knots in a tight band of muscle. Trigger points typically are painful when compressed, and trigger point-related pain can radiate to other parts of the body. According to the Mayo Clinic website, myofascial pain caused by trigger points has been associated with many types of pain, including headaches, neck pain, pelvic pain, low back pain, jaw pain and arm pain. Common signs or symptoms associated with trigger points include the following: deep, aching muscle pain; persistent pain; stiff muscles; joint stiffness; and sleep difficulties. Trigger point treatments--typically provided by a manual medicine practitioner--focus on reducing pain or discomfort while restoring the affected muscle's normal length and tone. Popular trigger point treatment methods include manual therapies, physical therapy and, in severe cases, trigger point injections.

Trauma

Trauma can cause jaw and arm pain. According to the Merck Manuals website, blunt facial trauma can fracture the jaw and other bones of the midface. Blunt trauma can also fracture the humerus--or upper arm bone--or cause significant bruising, swelling and pain in the upper arm. In some cases, such as during a motor vehicle accident or while playing a contact sport, a person may experience both jaw and arm trauma. MedlinePlus states that, along with motor vehicle accidents and recreational or sports injuries, assault and industrial accidents are the most common causes of a broken or dislocated jaw. Assault and industrial accidents may also cause arm pain. Participating in sports that involve striking and body blows, such as boxing, mixed martial arts or other martial arts, may increase a person's risk of jaw and arm trauma and pain. The necessary protective equipment should always be used to decrease the likelihood of injury.

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