December 2nd, 2010
10:38 AM ET

Why does my jaw hurt when I exercise?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. Today, it's Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society.

Question asked by Sara from Texas

When I'm exercising, I often get jaw pain. It feels like someone is pressing inward on the joint with their fingers very hard. I've been very careful to maintain a relaxed posture and avoid tensing while I exercise, but the pain still comes. The kind of exercise I'm doing is low impact on the elliptical machine. I've even stopped using the arm holds because I've been worried the back and forth motion was making me tense. I've looked online and found that this could be a sign of heart problems, but I'm only 23 with no family history. Should I be concerned?

Dear Sara:

I am glad you've asked this question, as pains in the chest, left arm and jaw are a very common concern among people beginning an exercise regimen. The bottom line is, anyone who is planning to begin working out should get clearance from a physician before starting. Even children getting into a school sport should get medical clearance. Most importantly, those who begin a regimen and have any unexpected pains and discomforts should stop the activity and seek evaluation from a physician. You should not restart the activity until the cause of the pain is determined and measures are planned to prevent it.

Angina, or pain from the heart muscle not getting enough oxygenated blood, can present as mild to severe chest pain, a pain or numbness running up the left arm, pain in the jaw or even as a headache. Angina is typical in patients with cardiovascular disease undergoing strenuous exertion. Strenuous activity increases the heart's need for oxygen. Partial obstruction in the coronary arteries leads to less than adequate flow of oxygenated blood to the heart. The discomfort usually decreases or goes away with rest. If the heart is deprived of blood long enough, some of the heart muscle will die. This is commonly called a myocardial infarction or a heart attack. Death of heart muscle can lead to heart rhythm problems and difficulty in the heart pumping blood. The latter is known as congestive heart failure.

The typical person with cardiovascular disease and angina is in his or her 50s or older. In younger people, discomfort of the chest, the left arm, and the jaw during exercise is more commonly due to non-heart problems. Physicians will assess the young individual with these symptoms for abnormalities of the heart valves and congenital malformations of the heart. These findings are rare. Even rarer is the young person with coronary artery blockages. Young people with coronary artery disease usually have a family and personal history of high serum cholesterol or serum triglyceride or have a history of radiation therapy to chest for another disease such as a cancer.

Patients under evaluation may get electrocardiograms, ultrasound studies of the heart or exercise stress tests. In an exercise stress test, the heart performance is evaluated during exertion with an electrocardiogram, and often with ultrasound and nuclear medicine - use of traceable material injected into the blood vessels to look for blockages.

Among young people, chest discomfort during exercise is commonly due to indigestion, acid reflux, or even muscular and skeletal pain in the rib cage. Pain in the jaw can be due to tensing of the jaw or malocclusion of teeth (a bad bite). Numbness and pain in the forearm are commonly due to carpal tunnel syndrome from gripping exercise machines.

Again I stress that one should not self-diagnose this discomfort. It should be evaluated by a health professional.

Ask our expert docs a question

Next entry »
soundoff (232 Responses)
  1. USA Mapy

    Paul Getty Zwykle Twierdzil, ze Bezinteresowna przyjazń moze istniec tylko pomiedzy osobami o jednakowych dochodach. I ja sie po niekad z tym zgadzam 🙂 A ty ? http://www.xmc.pl


    February 21, 2021 at 00:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. GrahamXVolpi

    Hi, I really do believe it is a great blog. I stumbledupon it 😉 I may revisit
    yet again since i have saved as a favorite it.
    Money and freedom is the greatest approach to change, may you be
    rich and continue to help others.

    Feel free to visit my website :: GrahamXVolpi

    February 21, 2021 at 02:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. remote pc assistance

    I am really loving the theme/design of your site. Do you ever run into any web browser compatibility issues? A number of my blog visitors have complained about my blog not working correctly in Explorer but looks great in Safari. Do you have any recommendations to help fix this problem?


    February 21, 2021 at 05:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. plaquenil classification

    erectile spray plaquenil immunosuppression can erectile dysfunction be cured

    February 21, 2021 at 05:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. slotxo

    I have read so many posts concerning the blogger lovers however this paragraph is really a pleasant piece of writing, keep it up.

    February 23, 2021 at 00:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Increase Instagram Post Likes

    I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but your blogs really nice, keep it up! I'll go ahead and bookmark your site to come back later. All the best


    February 25, 2021 at 23:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. สล็อตโจ๊กเกอร์

    ชั่วโมงนี้ คนไหนที่พึงพอใจต้องการจะบันเทิงใจกับเกมสล็อตออนไลน์ ผู้ใดกันแน่ที่อยากจะเล่นเกมคาสิโนได้เงินจริง พวกเราขอเสนอแนะให้ลูกค้าทุกคนได้สมัครเข้ามาร่วมเล่นเกมกับเว็บไซต์ของพวกเรา Joker Slot เล่นสนุกสนาน หาเงินใช้จากการเล่นเกมโทรศัพท์มือถือได้อย่างง่ายๆใช้เวลาเพียงไม่นาน พวกเราก็ได้รับเงินมาแล้วจากการเล่นเกมคาสิโนออนไลน์
    วันละ 1,000 บาท วันละ 5,000
    บาท ไม่ใช่เรื่องยาก เล่นได้เงินมากไม่น้อยเลยทีเดียวขนาดไหน เราก็พร้อมที่จะชำระเงินให้กับลูกค้าทุกคนที่เข้ามาร่วมเล่นเกมคาสิโนออนไลน์กับพวกเรา

    ร่วมสนุกกับเกมคาสิโน Joker Slot และลุ้นรับโบนัสแจ็คพอตจากการเล่นเกมสล็อตออนไลน์กับเว็บโจ๊กเกอร์ 123
    เว็บที่มีเงินโบนัสแตกง่ายที่สุดเวลานี้ เว็บไซต์ที่จะมามอบความสนุกสนานร่าเริงสำหรับเพื่อการเล่นเกมคาสิโนออนไลน์ เพิ่มมิติ เพิ่มลูกเล่น และก็เพิ่มความสบายสบายสำหรับในการเล่นเกมคาสิโนออนไลน์ให้กับลูกค้าทุกคนที่อยากจะเล่นเกมส์การพนัน เข้ามาทดสอบด้วยตัวเอง สมัครเข้าร่วมเล่นเกมคาสิโนออนไลน์กับเว็บของพวกเราเดี๋ยวนี้ เรามีโปรโมชั่นพิเศษมากมายก่ายกองและก็คอย support ลูกค้าทุกคน มีโปรโมชั่นพิเศษเยอะแยะไว้รอ เพิ่มเงินทุน เพิ่มสิทธิพิเศษในการเล่นเกมคาสิโนออนไลน์

    February 26, 2021 at 07:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. viagra

    https://genericviagragog.com viagra canada

    February 26, 2021 at 23:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Cheap Youtube Subscribers

    I was wondering if you ever thought of changing the page layout of your site? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or two pictures. Maybe you could space it out better?


    February 27, 2021 at 12:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Cukrzyca.XMC.pl

    Latwo byc przyjacielem dla kogos, kto jest twoim przyjacielem, ale byc przyjacielem dla kogos, kto uwaza sie za twego wroga – to kwintesencja prawdziwej religii. M. Gandhi.


    February 27, 2021 at 22:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. FjjuZisse

    how to make viagra work faster what does viagra cost viagra sildenafil

    February 28, 2021 at 03:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. ClarkTauts

    omfou 6g0ye zn55

    February 28, 2021 at 14:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. ClarkTauts

    t681m 44k99 wgzg

    February 28, 2021 at 14:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. ClarkTauts

    jq303 3askd wszc

    February 28, 2021 at 21:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Jamel Comiso

    Hey! Would you mind if I share your blog with my twitter group? There's a lot of folks that I think would really appreciate your content. Please let me know. Thanks


    March 1, 2021 at 12:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. KndnMile

    viagra super force using viagra best viagra

    March 2, 2021 at 12:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. NbmoZisse

    cialis in ireland cialis cialis canada generic

    March 2, 2021 at 17:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Odell Thal


    March 4, 2021 at 09:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Mark Tichnell

    I have been checking out many of your articles and i must say pretty clever stuff. I will definitely bookmark your website.


    March 4, 2021 at 10:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Jared Weyrauch


    March 4, 2021 at 10:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Verda Shatt

    I just couldn't go away your web site prior to suggesting that I actually enjoyed the usual information an individual supply for your visitors? Is going to be back frequently in order to check up on new posts


    March 6, 2021 at 13:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Lenore Copeman

    My wife and i were now thankful that John could complete his preliminary research from your precious recommendations he obtained through the web page. It is now and again perplexing to just be giving freely solutions people today have been making money from. And we also acknowledge we need you to give thanks to because of that. All of the illustrations you made, the straightforward web site navigation, the relationships your site help to create – it's many fantastic, and it's really leading our son in addition to the family feel that the topic is thrilling, and that's tremendously vital. Many thanks for everything!


    March 6, 2021 at 14:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Son Knipping

    I love the efforts you have put in this, thanks for all the great blog posts.


    March 6, 2021 at 14:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. coin pouch insert

    If some one wants to be updated with latest technologies after that he needs
    to be visit see this website and become updated everyday.

    Here is my website; coin pouch insert

    March 7, 2021 at 09:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Willa Drop

    It¡¦s in reality a great and useful piece of information. I¡¦m happy that you just shared this useful info with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.


    March 7, 2021 at 13:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Jonas Rzucidlo

    Thanks for the sensible critique. Me and my neighbor were just preparing to do a little research about this. We got a grab a book from our area library but I think I learned more clear from this post. I am very glad to see such great info being shared freely out there.


    March 7, 2021 at 13:38 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5

Leave a Reply to Seth


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Next entry »
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.