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What does extreme tightness in the jaw indicate?

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Extreme tightness in the jaw could indicate a heart condition associated with coronary artery disease where chest pain spreads to the jaw area, according to Dr. Melissa Conrad Stöppler for MedicineNet. Typically, jaw pain is felt in addition to pains within the chest with coronary artery disease or a heart attack.

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Tightness within the jaw could also indicate the patient is suffering from arthritis, often osteoarthritis that can lead to pain when moving the joints within the jaw, explains Stöppler.

In rare cases, a bacterial disease such as tetanus, also known as lockjaw, can affect the nerves and muscles and cause tightness within the jaw. Tetanus affects the jaw first, then the neck and can progress to other parts of the body resulting in heart abnormalities and breathing difficulties, notes the New York State Department of Health. Tetanus typically affects agricultural workers and older people who have not been immunized.

Extreme tightness of the jaw may also be a result of stress or anxiety, states the Calm Clinic. When a person is stressed, muscle pain due to jaw clenching or facial tension can lead to jaw pain. Hormones in the body often cause joints and muscles to tense. Clenching the jaw during sleep or while grinding teeth is often more common and leads to jaw pain.

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