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 (1,696 Responses)
  1. Isiah Puett

    Greetings! Very useful advice within this post! It is the little changes that will make the most significant changes. Thanks for sharing!


    June 11, 2021 at 00:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Glen Ditzel


    June 11, 2021 at 01:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Lamont Pernell

    I would like to thank you for the efforts you have put in penning this blog. I am hoping to view the same high-grade blog posts by you in the future as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my own site now 😉

    June 11, 2021 at 02:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Keturah Heiken

    The very next time I read a blog, I hope that it won't disappoint me just as much as this particular one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read through, however I genuinely believed you would probably have something useful to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something you could fix if you were not too busy seeking attention.


    June 11, 2021 at 02:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Alisa Araiza


    June 11, 2021 at 02:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Asa Bertini


    June 11, 2021 at 02:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Kristopher Maya

    I quite like looking through an article that will make men and women think. Also, thanks for permitting me to comment!


    June 11, 2021 at 04:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. rv repair shops

    After I initially commented 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 receive four emails with the exact same comment. Is there a way you can remove me from that service? Thanks a lot!


    June 11, 2021 at 07:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. appomannoni

    fast erectile repair kayamy erectile surgery
    erectile mastery program slilicy erectile ointment
    erectile diet sicAdofs erectile band

    June 11, 2021 at 07:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. rv repair


    June 11, 2021 at 07:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Find Out More

    Hi there, You have done an incredible job. I will definitely digg it and personally suggest to my friends. I am sure they'll be benefited from this site.


    June 11, 2021 at 07:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. rv repair service near me

    This site definitely has all of the information I wanted concerning this subject and didnít know who to ask.


    June 11, 2021 at 09:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Ronny Bertino

    You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the highest quality websites online. I most certainly will highly recommend this website!

    June 11, 2021 at 09:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Manie Gauze

    Having read this I thought it was extremely enlightening. I appreciate you finding the time and effort to put this short article together. I once again find myself personally spending a lot of time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worth it!


    June 11, 2021 at 09:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Shavonda Fearon

    Everything is very open with a precise clarification of the challenges. It was definitely informative. Your site is very helpful. Thanks for sharing!


    June 11, 2021 at 09:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Cortez Stroman

    An intriguing discussion is definitely worth comment. I do think that you should publish more about this issue, it may not be a taboo matter but typically people don't discuss these topics. To the next! Many thanks!!


    June 11, 2021 at 10:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Ramona Huse


    June 11, 2021 at 10:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Angelina Woodrow


    June 11, 2021 at 11:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Olen Quigg


    June 11, 2021 at 11:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Retta Gehle

    Having read this I thought it was rather enlightening. I appreciate you taking the time and energy to put this article together. I once again find myself spending a lot of time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worth it!


    June 11, 2021 at 11:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Bradly Burce


    June 11, 2021 at 11:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. bóng đá lưu

    Thẳng đá Bóng Việt Nam Vs Lebanon. Xem Truc Tiep Bong Da. Futsal Việt Nambet168Trên băng ghế huấn luyện, Lebanon đã bửa nhiệm Ramiro Lopez cách đây 3 tuần. Nhà cầm quân người Tây Ban Nha công ty yếu làm việc trên Ý và từng có thời gian làm việc trên Kuwait.|Và NHM bóng đá Việt Nam đang được hóng Minh Trí cùng đồng đội hóa giải đối thủ để tạo lợi thế cho trận lượt về sau đây hai ngày. Chelsea đã phải trải qua 8 phút bù giờ không thở được đảm bảo thành công.


    June 11, 2021 at 11:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. vtc14 trực tuyến

    Thẳng Soccer Ngày Hôm Nay, Link Xem Trực Tuyến Video Trường Hợptrực tiếp bóng đá sea games 30Trên băng ghế giảng dạy, Lebanon đã bửa nhiệm Ramiro Lopez cách đây 3 tuần. Nhà cầm cố quân người Tây Ban Nha chủ yếu ớt làm việc trên Ý và từng có thời hạn làm việc tại Kuwait.|Và NHM bóng đá Việt Nam đang được hóng Minh Trí cùng đồng đội hóa giải đối thủ để tạo lợi thế đến trận lượt về tại đây hai ngày. Chelsea đã cần trải qua 8 phút bù giờ không thở được bảo vệ thành công.


    June 11, 2021 at 11:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Lyndia Tobert

    Itís hard to find well-informed people in this particular topic, however, you seem like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks


    June 11, 2021 at 12:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Ruthe Broyle

    Hi there! This post could not be written much better! Looking through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept preaching about this. I'll send this post to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

    June 11, 2021 at 12:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. appomannoni

    ace inhibitors erectile dysfunction kayamy improve erectile dysfunction
    erectile pump youtube slilicy michael douglas erectile dysfunction
    erectile reverser sicAdofs cialis without erectile dysfunction

    June 11, 2021 at 15:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. in the box near me


    June 11, 2021 at 16:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. motorhome inspection near me

    Your style is really unique in comparison to other folks I've read stuff from. Thanks for posting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I'll just book mark this page.


    June 11, 2021 at 16:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. tires near me

    An interesting discussion is worth comment. There's no doubt that that you should publish more about this topic, it might not be a taboo subject but typically people do not discuss such subjects. To the next! All the best!!


    June 11, 2021 at 16:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. horse trailer roof repair

    Hey there! I simply want to offer you a big thumbs up for the great information you have right here on this post. I am returning to your site for more soon.


    June 11, 2021 at 16:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. temecula collision center


    June 11, 2021 at 18:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. dealership near me

    Having read this I thought it was very enlightening. I appreciate you finding the time and effort to put this information together. I once again find myself personally spending way too much time both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worth it!


    June 11, 2021 at 18:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Mercedes Camper Van Repair Shop


    June 11, 2021 at 21:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. RV Dashboard Orange County


    June 11, 2021 at 21:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Repair Shops Near Me


    June 11, 2021 at 21:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. RV Refrigerator Near Me

    I blog frequently and I genuinely thank you for your content. This article has really peaked my interest. I am going to bookmark your website and keep checking for new information about once a week. I opted in for your Feed too.


    June 11, 2021 at 21:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Restoration Shop


    June 11, 2021 at 21:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Handicap Van Repair

    Excellent write-up. I absolutely appreciate this website. Stick with it!


    June 11, 2021 at 22:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. appomannoni

    erectile clinic kayamy icd 10 erectile
    erectile pills slilicy erectile vitimans
    best erectile dysfunction medicine sicAdofs erectile dysfunction icd

    June 11, 2021 at 23:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. 2009 Stuck Intake Dodge Sprinter Repair

    This is a topic that's close to my heart... Many thanks! Exactly where are your contact details though?


    June 11, 2021 at 23:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Pop Up Tent Trailer Repair

    This is a very good tip especially to those new to the blogosphere. Simple but very accurate informationÖ Thanks for sharing this one. A must read article!


    June 11, 2021 at 23:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Utility Van Repair Shop Near Me

    This is a very good tip especially to those new to the blogosphere. Brief but very precise informationÖ Appreciate your sharing this one. A must read post!


    June 11, 2021 at 23:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. RV Supplies Orange County

    Itís hard to find knowledgeable people on this subject, however, you sound like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks


    June 11, 2021 at 23:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. rv service and parts near me

    Aw, this was an incredibly good post. Finding the time and actual effort to produce a very good articleÖ but what can I sayÖ I procrastinate a whole lot and never manage to get anything done.

    http://blog.tieonline.com/feedtie/feed2js.php?src=https://www.ocrv.info &num=3&au=y&date=y&utf=y&html=y

    June 11, 2021 at 23:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Dodge Sprinter Mechanic

    Everything is very open with a really clear description of the challenges. It was really informative. Your website is extremely helpful. Many thanks for sharing!


    June 11, 2021 at 23:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. rv repair materials


    June 12, 2021 at 00:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Coleman Popup Roof Repair

    Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It's always helpful to read through content from other authors and practice something from other sites.


    June 12, 2021 at 01:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. oc rv dealers


    June 12, 2021 at 01:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. rv parts los angeles


    June 12, 2021 at 07:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. awnings orange county ca


    June 12, 2021 at 07:53 | 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 33 34

Post a comment


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.