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 (1,586 Responses)
  1. RV Maintenance California


    June 12, 2021 at 08:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Jet Van Repair Shop

    I need to to thank you for this good read!! I absolutely loved every little bit of it. I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you postÖ


    June 12, 2021 at 08:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. appomannoni

    erectile issues kayamy does erectile dysfunction pills work
    best erectile medicine slilicy erectile supplements that work
    erectile medicine new zealand silvasta sicAdofs best erectile supplements

    June 12, 2021 at 08:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. RV Windshield Replacement

    Right here is the right web site for everyone who would like to understand this topic. You know a whole lot its almost hard to argue with you (not that I actually will need toÖHaHa). You certainly put a new spin on a topic which has been discussed for many years. Excellent stuff, just wonderful!


    June 12, 2021 at 08:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Cargo Van Repair Shop Near Me


    June 12, 2021 at 08:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. RV Paint Shop California

    I quite like reading an article that can make people think. Also, thank you for allowing for me to comment!


    June 12, 2021 at 08:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. truck collision repair near me

    Great web site you've got here.. Itís hard to find good quality writing like yours these days. I truly appreciate people like you! Take care!!


    June 12, 2021 at 09:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Conversion Van Interior Repair


    June 12, 2021 at 09:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Van Repair Near Me

    Hello! I could have sworn Iíve been to your blog before but after going through a few of the articles I realized itís new to me. Anyways, Iím definitely pleased I discovered it and Iíll be bookmarking it and checking back often!


    June 12, 2021 at 09:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. 2006 Sprinter Climate Control Repair


    June 12, 2021 at 09:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Custom Paint Shop Near Me

    I have to thank you for the efforts you have put in penning this site. I really hope to check out the same high-grade blog posts from you later on as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my very own blog now 😉


    June 12, 2021 at 11:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. RV Beds Near Me


    June 12, 2021 at 11:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Sprinter Return Line Repair

    Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Thank you so much, However I am encountering troubles with your RSS. I donít know the reason why I can't join it. Is there anybody having similar RSS problems? Anybody who knows the solution will you kindly respond? Thanks!!


    June 12, 2021 at 11:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. https://j-website.net

    Best view i have ever seen !


    June 12, 2021 at 13:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. printers near me


    June 12, 2021 at 13:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. ymca near me

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you penning this article and the rest of the website is extremely good.


    June 12, 2021 at 14:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. check cashing near me

    When I initially left a comment I appear to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on whenever a comment is added I recieve four emails with the exact same comment. There has to be an easy method you can remove me from that service? Thanks a lot!


    June 12, 2021 at 14:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. culver's near me

    Hello! I just want to offer you a huge thumbs up for the excellent info you've got here on this post. I am returning to your site for more soon.


    June 12, 2021 at 15:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. vape shop near me

    You should be a part of a contest for one of the greatest sites on the internet. I most certainly will highly recommend this website!


    June 12, 2021 at 15:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. krogers near me

    I was more than happy to uncover this page. I want to to thank you for your time for this particularly wonderful read!! I definitely loved every bit of it and I have you saved as a favorite to check out new things on your blog.


    June 12, 2021 at 16:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. horseback riding near me

    You're so awesome! I do not believe I've read a single thing like that before. So great to find another person with some unique thoughts on this subject. Seriously.. thank you for starting this up. This web site is one thing that is required on the internet, someone with a little originality!


    June 12, 2021 at 16:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. appomannoni

    erectile mastery program kayamy erectile tissue
    erectile solutions slilicy erectile booster method scam
    video erectile dysfunction sicAdofs can erectile dysfunction come on suddenly

    June 12, 2021 at 16:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. hyundai dealer near me

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this article and the rest of the website is also really good.


    June 12, 2021 at 17:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. mechanics near me

    After checking out a handful of the blog posts on your website, I honestly appreciate your way of writing a blog. I saved it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back in the near future. Please visit my web site as well and let me know how you feel.


    June 12, 2021 at 17:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. attractions near me


    June 12, 2021 at 17:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. dominos near me


    June 12, 2021 at 19:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. metro pcs near me


    June 12, 2021 at 20:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. att near me

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this post plus the rest of the website is really good.


    June 12, 2021 at 20:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. gun store near me


    June 12, 2021 at 20:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. greek food near me


    June 12, 2021 at 21:42 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32

Leave a Reply to detectives en arcos de la frontera


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.