A neck and jaw pain, can they be related outside the box of skeletal and muscular issues? Well, yes! For a layman, the human body is a mystery of interconnected networks and functions that are carried by a complicated geography of organs. The carotid artery is the main supplier of oxygenated blood to the brain. These arteries are situated just below the jawline and on either sides of the neck. The left artery stems from the aortic arch in the thoracic region, while the right artery rises from the brachiocephalic trunk. Both these arteries follow the same course of travel. These are actually two large blood vessels.
The easiest way for you to locate the carotid arteries in the neck is, simply place your palm right below the jawline, on either of the neck sides. You will feel the pulse of the artery, that is pumping blood to major areas of the brain. So when there is neck and jaw pain, though the primary cause can be muscular, but neck pain and jaw pain can also be related to carotid artery issues. And how, is exactly what we are going to discuss in this article.
The pain is caused due to any malfunctioning or damage to the carotid artery. Certain conditions, like damage or blockage may cause the artery of carotid to malfunction, and we can say that, this pain is a symptom of an underlying disease.
In case of pain specifically in these arteries, there are higher chances of a disorder. There are certain conditions that lead to diseases, which are mentioned below.
- The most common cause of this pain is blockage in the carotid arteries. Due to excess cholesterol and fatty plaque, the arteries may get blocked, as the excess cholesterol gets accumulated on the walls of the artery. This obstructs the supply of oxygen and blood to the vital parts of the brain. Hence a blocked carotid is a leading reason for uneasiness and pain. This pain is one of the major blockage symptoms.
- Another big cause for the pain is arteriosclerosis. It can be determined by unusual thickening of the arteries. In this condition, the walls of the artery are thickened, they become hard and stiff, making them weak, and lose elasticity. This again happens because of too much pressure on the artery walls. This results in poor functioning of the artery, leading to insufficient amount of blood and oxygen supply to the brain. This is a condition that can lead to pain in the area of carotid artery.
- Carotidynia is another disease that leads to pain. It is also one of the common causes. This disease can be defined as the dilation of the arteries. The significance of this type of pain is, it creates a dull pain, especially experienced when palpated. The pain also increases during activities like swallowing and chewing. It may affect the right or left artery, or in worst cases, both of them. There is no possible underlying cause found yet, on this condition of the arteries.
- Factors like genes, high blood pressure, diabetes, unhealthy lifestyle, like smoking and alcohol, lack of exercise and poor nutrition can all contribute to the pain, which can result in pain in the neck and jaw area. Blood clots in the artery are also considered as a potential cause.
These conditions when neglected can turn to be very risky, as any artery disease can lead to a stroke, memory loss, paralysis and other complications. So consult a doctor as soon as there is prolonged pain in the carotid arteries.
There are treatment options for this pain, and they depend on the underlying disease of the artery. So after tests and diagnosis, the doctor will recommend drugs and other treatment options for treating the disease. Typical treatment of the disease will include, following a healthy lifestyle, that which is suggested by the doctors. Following the medications and other procedures of efforts may help in increasing the blood flow. Most of the doctors suggest, this should ease the extremity of the disease.
The common medicines that will be prescribed are, antiplatelet medications, that include aspirin and Plavex. These will ease out the blood clots and prevent the blockage and risk of stroke. Drugs that decrease blood pressure and also help in lowering cholesterol may be prescribed. Experts also suggest certain exercises that can help relieve the pain. In severe cases, the doctor may recommend a medical procedure like surgery to open up the blockage. Carotid artery stenting, also known as 'CAS' and carotid endarterectomy, known as 'CEA' can be advised.
The treatment will eventually clear all the signs and symptoms too, which includes the pain. So take care and follow a healthy lifestyle, for healthy arteries and in the long term, a healthy body.