Lyme Disease and Jaw Pain: Understanding the Connection

Home » Lyme Disease and Jaw Pain: Understanding the Connection

Written by Michelle McKeon

June 27, 2023

Today we will explore the correlation  between Lyme disease and jaw pain, its underlying mechanisms, common symptoms, diagnostic approaches, and available treatment options. Lyme disease, caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, is a vector-borne illness that affects thousands of individuals each year. Lyme disease can impact any organ of the body, and will oftentimes attack whatever is genetically weak in your system.  While it is commonly associated with symptoms like fatigue, joint pain, and fever, many people are unaware that Lyme disease can also cause jaw pain.

Understanding Lyme Disease: A Brief Overview

Lyme disease is primarily transmitted to humans through the bite of infected tick. These tiny arachnids can be found in grassy and wooded areas, parks, or marshy areas, unfortunately making outdoor activities like hiking or gardening potentially risky. Ticks transmitting Lyme disease are found throughout the US and even in Hawaii and Alaska.

Lyme disease  affects the skin, joints, heart, and the nervous system, leading to a wide range of symptoms.

Connection Between Lyme Disease and Jaw Pain

Research suggests that Lyme disease-induced jaw pain may be linked to several underlying mechanisms. Inflammation caused by the infection can affect the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), resulting in discomfort and restricted movement. The spirochete will often attack the fifth cranial nerve (V) and seventh cranial nerve (VII) presenting as TMJ, jaw pain, or dystonia impacting the jaw.  Additionally, Lyme disease can trigger a cascade of immune responses, leading to joint inflammation and associated pain.

Individuals with Chronic Lyme disease, and the co-infections Bartonella, and Babesiaare more likely to experience jaw pain. The bacterial infection’s prolonged presence in the body can lead to prolonged inflammation, which exacerbates symptoms. 

Identifying Jaw Pain in Lyme Disease: Common Symptoms

Jaw pain associated with Lyme disease can manifest in various ways. Common symptoms include difficulty in opening or closing the mouth, clicking or popping sounds in the jaw joint, jaw muscle stiffness, and pain radiating to the face or ears. Some individuals may also experience headaches, toothaches, or jaw muscle spasms.

girl showing headache caused by lyme disease jaw pain


Clinical Evaluation A thorough medical history review and physical examination are crucial for diagnosing Lyme disease-related jaw pain. Physicians may assess jaw movements, examine the TMJ for tenderness or swelling, and inquire about a past history of tick-borne infections.

Laboratory Testing can also be helpful. However,  false negatives can  be common.  This is why going through a specialized laboratory is crucial.  We recommend IGeneX, Vibrant, Galaxy Diagnostics, TickPlex, Infectolab, DNA Connexions, and Fry for more reliable results. Even with testing, a clinical evaluation is still necessary.  

Imaging Studies through  magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scans may be conducted to evaluate the TMJ and surrounding structures for any structural abnormalities or inflammation.

Treatment Options

When caught very early antibiotic therapy can be helpful.  However, The duration of antibiotic treatment is key, as oftentimes dosages are inaccurate, allowing the pathogens to persist. Integrative therapies are also necessary as many antibiotics do not penetrate through biofilms to kill the infection.  These therapies include antimicrobial herbals, hyperthermia treatment, ozone therapy, laser treatments, and many more. 

Pain Management through anti-inflammatories such as turmeric, coq10, and resveratrol are also encouraged to help mitigate symptoms and reduce inflammation.

Adjunctive Treatments Complementary therapies such as physical therapy, chiropractic care, or acupuncture may provide relief for individuals experiencing Lyme disease-induced jaw pain. These therapies aim to improve jaw mobility, reduce muscle tension, and promote overall relaxation.

turmeric used for pain management

Prevention Techniques

Tick Bite Prevention Prevention is crucial in avoiding Lyme disease and the associated jaw pain. Taking precautions such as wearing protective clothing, applying insect repellent, performing tick checks after outdoor activities, and avoiding tick-infested areas can significantly reduce the risk of contracting Lyme disease.

Early Detection and Prompt Treatment Early detection and timely treatment of Lyme disease are crucial in preventing the development of severe symptoms, including jaw pain. If you suspect a tick bite or notice any characteristic symptoms like a bull’s-eye rash or flu-like illness after spending time in tick-prone areas, seek medical attention immediately.

Coping with Lyme Disease Jaw Pain: Lifestyle Modifications

Individuals experiencing jaw pain due to Lyme disease can implement certain lifestyle modifications to manage their symptoms effectively. These may include eating soft or liquid foods, practicing stress-reducing techniques like meditation or yoga, applying warm compresses to the affected area, and avoiding excessive jaw movements or activities that exacerbate pain.

Living with Lyme Disease Jaw Pain

Lyme disease, a complex and multi-systemic complex condition, can present with various symptoms, including jaw pain. Understanding the connection between Lyme disease and jaw pain is crucial for a prompt and accurate diagnosis to begin effective treatment. By recognizing the potential mechanisms, identifying common symptoms, and employing appropriate diagnostic and treatment approaches, individuals with Lyme disease-related jaw pain can find relief and improve their quality of life.

Practicing preventive measures and adopting lifestyle modifications can help decrease the risk of developing Lyme disease and associated jaw pain. Remember, early detection, proper medical care, and a proactive approach are essential to combating Lyme disease and its diverse range of symptoms.

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