Digastric muscle-who knew

Many of you will know me as ellen5.I have been having problems with atypical facial pain-mostly in one tooth.None of the standard meds helped.
I went to a new pain clinic and they tried one block-which took the gum pain away for a week-but the tooth remained sore.
I then started doing neck stretches as a self help thing and realized I could not bend my head sideways equally in both directions,
I was planning on staying away from the site for 6 months-yet what has happened makes me want to share earlier.
I looked up neck muscles and BOOM-I found a site that showed the muscle and how it can cause severe pain in the front teeth,The pain management doc listened to me and did a diagnostic block of the muscle and I am now PAIN FREE .For how long-I don’t know.There are other muscles that can cause pain in other teeth.
I just wanted to share and say hi to Azurelle-who is continuing to give excellent advice.Yes sometimes opiates work because it is not what they think it is.


ellen! so good to hear from you! I’m excited you found a root cause to work with/on! have you started any PT to help get that muscle situated better for you?

I know I was stunned when I started head/shoulder/neck massage therapy and she pressed behind my ear on the ATN side and it felt like her fingers were on my chin. It was so, so strange. It also turned out to be so, so wonderful as after several weekly massages the feeling in my face (which had been varying degrees of numb for about three years) returned to normal. Actually, come to think of it, the ATN side has been vaguely getting numb for awhile now, I need to get back to the massage therapy.

Massage hasn’t stopped flares for me but it has returned feeling to my face – although I’ll take numb over pain any day.

ellen, please don’t “take a break” from here, you always have great info and interesting info to share, at least check in every few weeks!


I too have found the connection between my pain and tight muscles. I was diagnosed with atypical facial pain after a very long dental visit. Medication trials for 8 years and then diagnosed with Eagle Syndrome. From there I worked on my tight muscles in my face with TMJ doctor and a special release technique for my neck and shoulders. I can easily screw up and trigger my pain but I work hard to keep my muscles loose. I would suggest looking at cleaning up your diet as much as you can, have regular muscle release treatments, stay hydrated and use relaxing techniques. My health is now the focuse of my life and being pain free. Glad u too have found a solution and you are spreading the good news.


It just surprised me that I never saw anywhere about these muscles actually causing tooth pain.No where.I cannot even remember seeing it on this site.

All the specialists in the top hospitals and all it took was one kind doctor willing to give the block a try.

Now I need to figure how to deal with it.

I had been rear-ended a few months before my tooth pain started and none of the professionals thought of this as possibly being related to whiplash.

So I am enjoying the lessening on my pain for the time being and then decide how to proceed.If there is a tear I want to know before doing any more damage.

But it is probably scar tissue now.

Oh well.

I do hope others with atypical pain in their teeth will look at muscles also.

I will try and find the link to a site that talks about the 3 muscles that can cause dental pain.Wish I google muscles instead of nerves all the time.

Glad that you found a way out of your pain.Congrats

Just like to mention that @anon67464382 has been advocating for a treatment that considers the connection between neck muscles and TN for a really long while now!

I am so glad to hear from you. I remember you as Ellen 5. I was worried because I had not seen any posting from you over the last few months.
I am so happy with your discovery. I am going to look into it, too.
My dental pain follow dental work on a chip tooth that was painless until root canal following crown. I had a infection but dentist refuse to give me antibiotic and would not X-ray after crown pain symptoms- mild. 2 days after root canal I was in severe pain. I wish I could get the same outcome that you did but I doubt I will. Keep in touch if you can. And again I am so happy for you, and I hope your son is doing better.

Always great to hear someone getting another step closer to a solution for their TN.

Just curious about one point you mentioned in the first post "

Is the neck stretch restriction on the same side as the TN?
My partner has a restriction on her right side which is her TN side, when she has had a flare her right shoulder will lift and twist forward a bit even if she is just standing completely relaxed.

Hi Sparky

The restriction on my neck is if I bend it to the left.

The pain in my tooth is on the right side.

It seems the muscles are tight on the right side.

The more I stretch the more I start to lose my voice a bit so I believe there may be s something going on in the hyoid are.

Hoping to get imaging (at least an ultrasound) to make sure there is nothing concerning.I have also read that the digastric muscle problem can cause wonkiness in the thyroid-which might explain my results that keep flipping around(or it might be completely unrelated)

I am just thrilled that a doctor listened to me and now I have a path to follow.Hoping that maybe working on the muscle groups in the neck area will help your partner.

So very true Ellen and all replies. The digastric muscle and surrounding muscles on neck especially the sternocleidomastoid muscle most if not all who suffer with any facial, jaw, TN, or head injury find this muscle tense. We may not even realize how often our posture has us pretending our heads or as they say “duck head” from pain. It is natural in pain for our heads to protrude forward causing these neck muscles to tense more only further inflaming the issue. Just don’t overwork rubbing and best to find doctors and trained therapist who will treat slowly for best results and relief. Ultrasound helps although can be temporary as Ellen said it is great to have found any pain free relief that may be treated. Thanks again Ellen for your willingness to not give up when doctors have for your own health and we’ll being…and sharing with us

I’ve been an intermittent reader of this forum for 11 years and it is quite rare to read a pain free outcome and maybe nonexistent when it comes to longterm pain free outcomes. As an atn patient with primary pain emanating from a front tooth and with chronic neck pain you have my full attention. When I was initially evaluated with mucho imaging studies, there was one area that stood out as abnormal…the neck. Range of motion is severely restricted and asymmetrical, and plenty evidence of bone spurs. I would very much like to get details of your treatment. Which muscles, what kind of block, side effect, still on any meds?
The one element that merits an explanation is that by definition atn is neuropathic and hence how can a muscle block alter neuro functionality? No matter, PLEASE compile details! Congrats. Thanks for the post!!

I reckon most if not all, in the absence of nasties can help with therapy of the neck. That said if you don’t address why said therapy is needed, in the absence of a traumatic experience, I include dental therapy, RTA, assault etc… then it’s likely to return at some point.

Many patients regardless of their symptoms when consulting physical therapy, return some months later because they didn’t adjust the cause, it can be pointed out but folk are lazy or, to be fair wrapped up in their daily patterns.

Outside of serious trauma, sort stress, posture, drink enough- water, breath- take exercise, and eat a clean diet, you won’t need a physical therapist of any kind. Anyone with facial pain should follow this, the one caveat is stress, it could be years in the making, but at least the above is a start, though often it was a time that caused, don’t expect relief that a pill can bring overnight, but then it hides symptoms, doesn’t address the cause, often years in the making.

In my excitement I see that you will list the link and name the three mucscles. Not soon enough.

Regard trauma…plenty and the most recent was weeks prior to onset.

Regard massage…even the most experienced massage therapist have overstepped my reluctance to do work in that area. When they do, dental pain ramps.

It can work both ways, but if massage causes aggravation of pain, pretty sure I’d be looking there as a possible cause. Squeeze a zit it isn’t going to be happy for a time.

Hey Ellen

Maybe my description wasn’t clear, but that is exactly the same pattern as my partner except it’s not tooth pain for her it’s pain on her right eyebrow & forehead.


This is the trap of TN I think, the pain causes one to go into “crouch/cringe” posture tightening neck, shoulder & head muscles which then further aggravates the nerves, thus creating a never ending downward spiral.
I first had this realisation Christmas night 2016 when she was having a major attack, I almost had to yell at her to straighten her posture as I slowly walked her around the house/yard holding her hands all the while telling her to keep her head up and look straight at me (I was walking backwards), gradually the attack subsided, we did a long slow walk around the streets looking at the Christmas lights and she was finally able to get some sleep. Though we have had lots of setbacks, every step of the way we found confirmations of significant postural involvement in the aggravation of her TN.
The postural correction wasn’t an instant fix, it takes the body time to adapt to different postures, but persistence, exercise & massage is the key, along with stress/anxiety management being crucial to the process.


When in doubt go back to first principles, it is pain projected by the brain in response to a neural signal, the only way the brain knows where the pain originates is through it’s previous experience, which is usually peripheral stimulation I.e. pricked finger, but the same sensation can be created by nerve stimulation anywhere along it’s length just like amputees may experience phantom limb itches, the real life itch you can never scratch, well not quite, mirror therapy has been used to trick the brain and do just that, but I digress, point is we just assume it’s neuropathic because a long time ago someone said it was, I think it may be time to review the evidence.
Nerves get pinched & compressed all the time, they pass in between muscles and tight junctions around vertebrae & there are a number of different conditions like migraines which are now accepted as being caused by neck tension, why not TN & ATN & if this is the case then this answers your question, tension of neck/head muscles, cause some displacement of upper cervical vertebrae, which aggravate trigeminal (or other) nerve root and brain perceives facial (or other) pain. Relax the muscles through exercise, massage or drugs, aggravation is relieved and pain subsides.

Try the temporalis muscle.

See how that pain pattern works for that muscle.

Could be?

I wish so much that this muscle stuff helps people.Do a google search for that muscle and check the pain patterns.Fingers crossed

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Hi sparky

Maybe this would be helpful.bedtime for me so have not really reviewed it


Thanks ellen
Just glanced through, need to re acquaint myself with the technical terms.
If nothing else it confirms a direct relationship between the Trigeminal nerve and the neck muscles.
Still need to read over slowly, but certainly is a good find, it all positions more pieces into the jigsaw puzzle.

Have you found any good sites for gentle neck muscles stretches that hep with the teeth pain?


I am still working on that.There are a few on you-tube.Unfortunately -massage has seriously inflamed the muscle for me and am waiting it out-using freezies and a scarf to calm it down a bit.Go VERY gentle-especially behind he ear.My facial nerve is so inflamed now-face so smooth on one side.I do notice my voice get raspy with the exercizes.I am going to look on the TMJ Bites page to see what they have to say-as this is a TMJ problem(if that is where the pain is coming from) At least that is what I have read.Not a specialist-just a sufferer.

yes i had it since 2009 following a Chiropractic adjustment to the neck. I know my muscles are all tight and do not help, generally any exercise i try makes it worse. looking for easy gentle stretches.