When the jaw causes back pain – CMD syndrome

At least once in his life almost every German suffers from back pain. It’s only natural that the first person you see is your family doctor or orthopedist. However, it is not uncommon for the spine itself to be the cause of the complaints. Rather, craniomandibular dysfunction, better known as CMD, can trigger the pain. What exactly is behind it?

At first glance, the connection between back pain and teeth may seem surprising. However, upon closer examination, this connection is not surprising. Dental specialists see the temporomandibular joint, together with the upper and lower jaws and the teeth, as an extension of the spine.

And what exactly is meant by CMD? “Descending CMD is when patients suffer from a functional disorder of the masticatory system,” explains Dr. Gerd Reichardt, who has a practice in Stuttgart. “This has different causes, such as the misalignment of the skull and lower jaw.” Many patients with CMD have Back pain, suffer from Neck tension to pain in the shoulder and Numbness in the fingers.

“That’s because the tension from the Jaw muscles can travel down the neck and shoulder to the lower back,” Dr. Reichardt said. And there are other symptoms such as Dizziness, tinnitus, headaches and Migraine. Even massive Sleep disorders can be accompanying symptoms of CMD.

Main causes of CMD syndrome

Considered as one of the main causes of CMD. Misalignment of teeth and jaws. These can be growth-related, genetically pre-programmed or caused by gaps between teeth and defective dentures. Our brain receives error messages and tries to compensate or adapt to these misalignments through the musculature, which causes tension in the chewing, head and facial muscles. “If this tension then becomes chronic, the result is a Craniomandibular Dysfunction“, says the Stuttgart dentist specialist.

But stress can also be a cause. Many people react to it with Teeth grinding, the so-called Bruxism. Teeth grinding, in turn, creates extreme forces that cause severe tension, which can develop into CMD. A vicious circle is created.

Individual therapy for CMD syndrome

What to do? If CMD is suspected, a functional analysis should first be performed after a detailed anamnesis interview, for which dentists should work with the Additional training for esthetics and function are particularly qualified.

Subsequently, MRI images of the temporomandibular joints can provide differentiated information. “Once the diagnosis is established, we recommend individualized therapy. This includes wearing a dental splint during the night. Bite splints made of plastic free the lower jaw from the corset of interlocking teeth in a very short time and give it the opportunity to stabilize in its physiological position. The incorrect position of the lower jaw is thus resolved and the muscles compensating for the defect can relax. Subsequent treatment of the malocclusion is always recommended if the patient responds positively to wearing the splint,” explains Dr. Reichardt.

In many cases, interdisciplinary cooperation with osteopaths, physiotherapists or, in some cases, psychotherapists also makes sense. Relaxation techniques such as yoga or Thai Chi can also be used to support and help.

Lead photo: Jairo Alzate, Unsplash.com