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 (2,296 Responses)
  1. dnd podcast


    June 27, 2021 at 00:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. appomannoni

    best erectile pump http://cialisuni.com#

    June 27, 2021 at 01:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. www.pharmaceptica.com

    chloroquine side effects https://pharmaceptica.com/

    June 27, 2021 at 01:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. stuff they don't want you to know podcast

    The next time I read a blog, Hopefully it won't fail me just as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, however I genuinely believed you'd have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of complaining about something that you can fix if you were not too busy seeking attention.


    June 27, 2021 at 02:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Famous Leadership Quotes


    June 27, 2021 at 02:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Books On Leadership


    June 27, 2021 at 02:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. soccer podcast


    June 27, 2021 at 02:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Leadership Podcasts

    I was able to find good information from your blog posts.


    June 27, 2021 at 02:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. michael steele podcast


    June 27, 2021 at 02:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Leadership Team Development


    June 27, 2021 at 02:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Laissez-Faire Leadership

    Greetings! Very helpful advice within this article! It's the little changes that make the greatest changes. Many thanks for sharing!


    June 27, 2021 at 03:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Best Leadership Books


    June 27, 2021 at 03:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. youtube podcast

    An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a coworker who has been conducting a little homework on this. And he actually ordered me lunch because I found it for him... lol. So let me reword this.... Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending the time to discuss this matter here on your web site.


    June 27, 2021 at 04:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. apple podcast rankings

    Good info. Lucky me I came across your website by chance (stumbleupon). I have bookmarked it for later!


    June 27, 2021 at 04:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. sổ tay fo4

    Thẳng Bóng Đá Thời Điểm Hôm Naylịch thi đấu cktgĐây có lẽ rằng là ngôi trường hợp “của đi thay nhân viên" khá như mong muốn đối với Ben McLemore. Thiếu chút nữa tay ném của Los Angeles Lakers đã có thể gặp gỡ tai nạn nguy hiểm. Cập nhật kết trái trận Việt Nam vs Lebanon nằm trong play-off vòng loại Futsal World Cup 2021.


    June 27, 2021 at 05:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. dave ramsey podcast


    June 27, 2021 at 06:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. levin podcast

    That is a really good tip especially to those new to the blogosphere. Short but very accurate informationÖ Thank you for sharing this one. A must read post!


    June 27, 2021 at 06:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Leadership Topics

    Great information. Lucky me I ran across your website by accident (stumbleupon). I have book-marked it for later!


    June 27, 2021 at 07:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Google Leadership

    This is a great tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere. Short but very precise informationÖ Many thanks for sharing this one. A must read article!


    June 27, 2021 at 08:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. appomannoni

    erectile exercises http://tadalafilico.com#

    June 27, 2021 at 08:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Society For Collegiate Leadership & Achievement

    You're so cool! I do not believe I've truly read through anything like this before. So nice to find somebody with a few original thoughts on this subject. Seriously.. many thanks for starting this up. This website is one thing that is required on the web, someone with a bit of originality!


    June 27, 2021 at 08:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. The Leadership Challenge


    June 27, 2021 at 09:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. glass cannon podcast

    Your style is really unique compared to other people I've read stuff from. Many thanks for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I'll just book mark this web site.


    June 27, 2021 at 09:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Lincoln On Leadership


    June 27, 2021 at 12:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Management Leadership For Tomorrow

    Saved as a favorite, I love your site!


    June 27, 2021 at 12:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. the bellas podcast

    I would like to thank you for the efforts you've put in writing this website. I am hoping to see the same high-grade content from you later on as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my own site now 😉


    June 27, 2021 at 12:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. podcast directory


    June 27, 2021 at 13:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Self Leadership


    June 27, 2021 at 13:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. John Maxwell Leadership Podcast Notes

    Spot on with this write-up, I really believe this web site needs far more attention. Iíll probably be returning to read more, thanks for the advice!


    June 27, 2021 at 13:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Leadership Book

    Oh my goodness! Awesome article dude! Thanks, However I am encountering troubles with your RSS. I donít know why I can't subscribe to it. Is there anyone else getting identical RSS issues? Anyone that knows the answer can you kindly respond? Thanx!!


    June 27, 2021 at 13:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. google podcast app


    June 27, 2021 at 14:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Camper Repairs Near Me


    June 27, 2021 at 14:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. RV Repair Shops Near My Location

    After looking at a handful of the blog articles on your blog, I really like your technique of writing a blog. I bookmarked it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back soon. Take a look at my website as well and tell me how you feel.


    June 27, 2021 at 14:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. appomannoni

    discount erectile dysfunction http://tadalafilsol.com#

    June 27, 2021 at 16:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. RV Repair Mission Viejo


    June 27, 2021 at 17:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Rv Upgrades Shop Near Me


    June 27, 2021 at 18:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. RV Repair San Clemente California


    June 27, 2021 at 19:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Camper Repairs Near Me

    I really love your website.. Very nice colors & theme. Did you make this amazing site yourself? Please reply back as Iím trying to create my very own blog and would like to find out where you got this from or what the theme is called. Thank you!


    June 27, 2021 at 21:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Nearby RV Repairs


    June 27, 2021 at 22:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Authorized Mercedes Benz Service Centers Near Me

    This site was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something which helped me. Thanks!


    June 27, 2021 at 22:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Emergency Vehicle Repair Shop Near Me

    I enjoy reading through a post that will make people think. Also, many thanks for allowing me to comment!


    June 27, 2021 at 22:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Camper Repair Shop Near Me

    Good post! We will be linking to this great content on our site. Keep up the good writing.


    June 27, 2021 at 23:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. appomannoni

    erectile dysfunction natural remedies http://sildenafiltrxy.com#

    June 27, 2021 at 23:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. RV Repair Orange County


    June 28, 2021 at 00:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Ram High Top Van Repair Shop

    You've made some really good points there. I checked on the web to find out more about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this website.


    June 28, 2021 at 00:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Mercedes Sprinter Refrigerater Repair

    Hello! I could have sworn Iíve visited this site before but after looking at a few of the articles I realized itís new to me. Nonetheless, Iím certainly delighted I came across it and Iíll be bookmarking it and checking back often!


    June 28, 2021 at 00:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. RV Repairs Nearby


    June 28, 2021 at 00:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. bong bowl piece

    What Is Dab Mat?https://www.posts123.com/user/821849/busgalley4All products intended for use with legal smoking/vaping mixtures only .


    June 28, 2021 at 01:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. RV Repair Shops Nearby

    An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a coworker who has been conducting a little research on this. And he actually bought me lunch simply because I stumbled upon it for him... lol. So let me reword this.... Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending time to discuss this issue here on your web page.


    June 28, 2021 at 02:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. sbobet.com

    Remarkable things here. I'm very happy to look your
    post. Thank you a lot and I am having a look forward to touch you.
    Will you please drop me a mail?

    June 28, 2021 at 03:25 | 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 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46

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.