TMJ and swollen lymph glands in the neck

by Kay
(United States)

Hello. I am a 43 year old woman who has had orthodontic braces for 2 1/2 years. Late last year I was fitted with an "MDA" wire which required wearing elastic bands between the top and bottom teeth at any time I wasn't eating. While the appliance has since been removed (I am still in braces), I believe it triggered TMJ and now I am suffering from constant jaw and neck pain and stiffness.

I also have swollen lymph nodes in my neck and head and a lump / swelling on my cervical vertebrae. I have had a CT scan, Ultrasound and X-Ray that have showed nothing (other than enlarged lymph nodes). A recent blood test (complete blood panel) showed one type of white cell as low and another as high. I am seeing my regular doctor this week to ask what she thinks is going on.

I have not been sick nor do I feel ill at all - just the pain and tension which is constant. When I stretch my jaw (mostly by opening wide and then relaxing, repeatedly), I get temporary relief from my symptoms. I would welcome any feedback you can offer.

Hello Kay,
Firstly, the diagnosis of those enlarged lymph nodes has to be made. That is paramount; and could be the underlying cause of all your neck and TMJ symptoms.

I must be honest and say that I have some doubts about braces. What was the reason for having them? I get many letters from folk who develop TMJ pain after orthodontic treatment.

Look carefully at the graphic shown; you'll see that the sensory nucleus of the trigeminal nerve, that supplies the jaw joint, is located in the upper neck. For this reason, many folk with TMJ symptoms also have neck pain.

Or, the problem in the neck could be quite independent of all your TMJ symptoms. Or it could be caused by those swollen lymph glands.

My suggestion is to first get those lymph glands seen to, and then have a long chat to your orthodontist. What's his take on the subject?

Then it's time to start looking for a chiropractor who works with the TMJ; not all do, so shop around and make sure the person has some genuine credentials. Ask your doctor for a start.

I hope this contributes, Kay. Please let me know what happens, keeping to this thread.

Dr B


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Aug 19, 2015
Visited with Orthodontist Today
by: Kay

Dr. B:
Thanks for your response. I had a monthly orthodontic appointment / adjustment this morning and visited with the doctor. She referenced an x-ray she had taken of my cervical spine immediately before the braces went on. She said my spine was compensating for the misalignment of my jaw which is reflected in the very straight (up and down) stacking of my first few vertebrae in the x-ray. She said ideally, there should be a gentle curve there and now after wearing braces for 2 1/2 years, my jaw is requiring my cervical spine to adjust (curve) and it could trigger inflammation.

We visited about other symptoms (besides swollen lymph nodes and abnormal white cell counts) and I shared that I have frequent (but brief) cluster headaches, sore throat and sensation of lump on left side of throat as well as tingling, numbness and sensation of hair being pulled at base of skull which is adjacent to the lump left of my spine just above the hairline. I have an appointment with my general practitioner Friday and will keep you updated. I too would like to know the reason behind the swollen lymph nodes and am tired of being told "give it some time" and "wait and see." Thank you!

Hello Kay,
Yes, the cervical spine should have a lordotic curve, that points to old injury to your neck. In many ways, it's an encouragement. It means that your neck pain is probably coming from your neck, and thus very treatable with chiropractic.

Migraine headaches and facial pain are part and parcel of the TMJ syndrome.

Why did you have the prosthetics fitted?

Away now for three weeks.

Dr B

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