Do you experience cramps underneath your chin, especially when yawning? Recently, muscle cramps or spasms have gradually become a thing of concern, often interfering with daily routine and activities.
A variety of factors that trigger an involuntary contraction of the affected muscles causes this condition. Because of its mild symptoms, it can get worse if not treated left untreated.
Why You Have Cramps Under Your Chin When Yawning
Various conditions and complications can cause muscle cramps. However, the most common triggers include those involving dental problems, infections, and trauma from injury or surgery.
Sometimes, patients experience complications and side effects after a dental procedure. There may be damages and impacts from needles injected into your inner cheeks. Oral surgery, such as a molar extraction, can also affect your jaw and result in jaw spasms, cramps, or twitches.
1. Physical Trauma
This is one of the most common causes of cramping while yawning. It can arise from certain situations, such as; jaw Injury, dislocations, and fractures from accidents
During automobile accidents, foreign objects, especially debris, can get stuck or lodged in your jaw.
These particles, when not completely removed and treated early on, can cause serious issues that become debilitating and affect basic functionality, including yawning.
Surgical damage is also a common cause of physical trauma. Complications could arise during surgery and lead to jaw spasms, especially surgical procedures to your head, neck, face, or temporomandibular joints.
Damages to your jaw structure during other procedures can also trigger cramping that is more prevalent during oral activities such as yawning, chewing, eating, or speaking.
2. Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)
The temporomandibular joints are on the side of your face. They help with chewing, eating, swallowing and speaking. Sometimes, dysfunction can occur due to stress, personal habits, teeth misalignment, and affect one or both sides of your jaw. Individuals with this disorder often experience pain and discomfort that is worse by yawning, chewing, or other jaw movements.
Other symptoms associated with this dysfunction include pain, vertigo, headaches, jaw pain, limited jaw movement, and clicking sounds.
3. Myofascial Pain Syndrome
Also known as chronic myofascial pain (CMP), this is a condition characterized by pain, pressure, and habitual tightening on certain points of your muscles. It is caused by stress, tension, and poor posture. MPS is usually triggered by muscle overuse, wear, and tear. It also leads to deep, aching muscular pain.
Muscles Underneath The Chin
The human face is composed of different parts and muscles, each responsible for specific functions. The major muscles that assist with yawning and opening of the mouth include; the mylohyoid, lateral pterygoid, and digastric muscles. The anterior belly in the digastric muscle is charged with the opening of the mouth.
There are other facial muscles that help the above-named muscles and perform other functions. They are; the oral muscles, neck muscles, and chewing muscles. These chewing muscles are further divided into four, including;
1. The masseter
Located just at the opening of the mouth, it involves the motion of the jawbone and is the most powerful muscle of mastication, also known as chewing. It is quadrangular and further split into two other regions. It elevates the jaw.
This is a broad muscle covering many parts of the temporal bone at the side of the skull. It is wide-shaped and connected to a tendon that attaches it to the jaw. It elevates and retracts the jaw.
3. Lateral Pterygoid
The lateral pterygoid is the major jaw protractor. It is triangular with two heads, the superior and the inferior. Both heads originate next to the eye socket and connect to the jaw via tendons. This muscle also works together with some neck muscles to depress the jaw.
4. Medial Pterygoid
Similar to the lateral Pterygoid, this muscle is quadrangular shaped with two heads. However, it is located inferior to the latter. It also assists in lateral movement and elevating the jaw.
The neck muscles have basic functions, such as eating, swallowing, and chewing.
The suprahyoid muscles comprise four different parts, which help with swallowing and widening the esophagus.
Symptoms Of Cramping While Yawning
Jaw cramps are usually a distressing experience. The muscles in your jaw tighten up and do not completely relax. When this happens, it shows there has been damages or interference to your facial muscles and nerves, making your jaw lock up.
This condition is also called trismus. It makes it difficult for you to open your mouth wide. Sometimes, also called oromandibular dystonia, meaning an incorrect jaw and mouth muscle tone. Pain and discomfort associated with the jaw joints are called temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) Or (TMD).
Common symptoms likely to be prevalent with cramping while yawning include;
Pain is usually accompanied by jaw stiffness and discomfort. It may occur on one or both sides of your jaw and face. It is often more prevalent when performing basic oral functions like chewing, eating, yawning, or speaking.
Difficulty opening your mouth
Jaw spasms or cramps can be so debilitating sometimes that it makes it difficult for you to open your mouth completely. So you experience pain while yawning because this requires you to open and stretch your mouth to an extent.
This condition becomes chronic when it affects your speaking and eating attributes. The muscles are easily irritated and inflamed, causing an inability to eat solid foods.
If TMD causes your cramping, then you are likely going to experience vertigo and vision problems. This is because there are some connected muscles that become affected.
These symptoms may eventually clear up on their own or become severe and affect your daily routines or functionality if left untreated.
Prevention Of Cramping While Yawning
There are various degrees of severity in cramping while yawning. It may be a mild case and clear up on its own, a moderately serious issue that interferes with your daily activities or a serious condition with severe symptoms that affect your quality of life. Regardless of the case, it is always best to avoid these conditions, as they can become quite debilitating. Here are some preventive tips for cramping;
Yawn more gently
It helps prevent cramping by slowing down forceful contractions. When you yawn abruptly, you force your jaw muscles to constrict, which worsens when you have certain jaw issues.
Stress can trigger some conditions with symptoms of jaw cramps. Practice stress management techniques, rest, and relax. Avoid opening your mouth wide and slow down the opening. Yawn without fully opening your mouth.
Relax your tongue
Forceful yawning also contracts you and causes some muscles to spasm. Relax your tongue and lay it flat at the bottom of your mouth while yawning. This will help prevent cramping underneath your chin while yawning.
Take natural supplements
Cramping is not only experienced while yawning. Some people experience cramping in other parts of their body, such as their calves, thighs, and back. If you experience cramping frequently during the day, consult your physician.
Is There A Treatment For Cramping Under Chin
There are various treatments available for the cramping under your chin, but this depends on the cause, duration, and occurring symptoms. Some may require a diagnosis before treatment, while others do not.
Cramping is caused by an involuntary contraction either in your neck, facial or jaw muscles. There are simple exercises you can practice such as the simple neck stretch or scalene stretch to help relieve discomfort.
Prescription pills and over-the-counter drugs are available to ease and reduce pain. These are mostly anti-inflammatory medications or pain killers, most drugs ease muscle tension and reduce inflammation that may worsen pain and discomfort. Contact your doctor or physician before using any drug, as there are some side effects that may aggravate your condition or trigger underlying health issues.
You may need to undergo surgery in severe cases involving the muscle or joint structures. A diagnosis is first performed to determine the cause and area of affected joints or muscles. To avoid complications, get treatment early before it becomes chronic and debilitating.
Heat or cold therapy
Applying a cold compress or heat therapy to sore muscles can provide relief. Do not use ice packs directly on your skin. Always wrap in a cloth or towel and apply for at least 5 to 10 minutes. Repeat this process within an hour or two intervals. You may also decide to take warm showers or use a heating pad.
Massages are essentially good as they relieve tightened muscle knots and tension, and provide relaxation. It is a short, effective method of treatment. Use gentle but firm hands while moving your hands in a circular motion.
While cramping when yawning may not be a serious issue, overlooking symptoms that are severe can aggravate your condition, make it weakening and interfere with your daily activities.