Cramps Under Chin: Causes, Symptoms and Solutions

Cramps under the chin are essentially muscle cramps or painful spasms of the muscles underneath the chin. The pressure caused by the chin muscles tightening can sometimes result in low to moderately high grade pain for some people. Painful chin cramps are classified as acute. Occasionally, the pain can extend to the neck, jaw or ears and cause the jaw to lock. If the pain starts affecting more than just the area underneath the chin, it is called temporomandibular pain. Chin cramps can be prevented and eased with simple solutions such as massage or applying a source of heat so that the contracted muscles underneath the chin can relax.

What do chin cramps feel like? When you get a chin cramp it feels as if the muscles underneath the chin tighten all of a sudden and become locked in a fixed, unnatural position they cannot return from. You can sometimes feel the base of the tongue rigid due to it also being affected by the contraction. The tightening of the muscles underneath the chin can feel like a lump or knot of hard tissue. If the cramp is left to continue, it can become painful, but quickly massaging the affected muscles can provide an almost complete reduction in pain in as little as 10-15 seconds. As the muscles loosen and the chin cramp goes away, the lump also disappears. It may take several minutes for all the symptoms of a chin cramp to go away.

Cramps under chin causes

What happens during a chin cramp? What happens is a contraction occurs in the following muscles: the genioglossus, mylohyoid and/or geniohyoid muscle.
1) The genioglossus muscle. It is a relatively large muscle, divided into the right and left genioglossus and is essentially an external tongue muscle. It controls tongue movements and is singularly responsible for the tongue’s ability to protrude. The genioglossus muscle is located underneath the tongue and spasms affecting it can result in painful chin cramps.
2) The mylohyoid muscle. It consists of a flat, triangle-shaped pair of muscles that sit underneath the genioglossus muscle. The mylohyoid muscle supports the mouth floor and plays an important role in speaking and swallowing food and water.
3) The geniohyoid muscle. The geniohyoid is a neck muscle. It goes from the chin to the hyoid bone or tongue bone, the biggest, visible bone in the upper part of the neck, above the thyroid. This particular muscle helps with respiration and swallowing food and water. Spasms or contraction of this muscle also cause cramps under the chin.

What causes cramps under the chin?

Certain situations make it more likely to us to experience chin cramps.
1) Cramps under chin and yawning. Probably one of the most common causes of chin cramps, or better said triggers, is yawning. Yawning triggers cramps underneath the chin because it involves contracting and raising the tongue muscle quickly as well as requires the participation of all three so-called chin muscles mentioned above. A big yawn in particular or one that comes about quickly or lasts longer can lead to cramps under the chin. The cramps can be all the more painful if we try to stop a yawn by forcing the mouth closed or yawn while with the chin facing downwards.

2) Talking too much. Cramps underneath the chin are more likely to occur after talking for too long without a pause. Such an effort can sometimes put a lot of stress on muscles and result in painful contractions. Talking on the phone for hours at a time or having a job that requires speaking continuously such as teaching, being a singer, talking while playing video games all day can lead to such outcomes.

3) Eating. Taking large bites of food, opening the mouth too wide, eating too fast or eating chewy or hard foods continuously can put strain on the tongue muscles and cause chin cramps. For example, I experienced chin cramps after eating sunflower seeds for several days in a row continuously. A friend of mine had a painful cramp under the chin after opening his mouth too wide to try to take a bite of a large burger.

4) Tilting head forward. Tilting the head forwards doesn’t only cause cervical neck pain or tension in the shoulder blades. It also causes the muscles of the tongue and neck located under the chin area to tighten, stay tense and ultimately contract, resulting in painful cramps. This can happen when you’re playing video games, working on the computer, watching television for too long and can be managed by getting a bigger computer monitor (example: 27 inch monitor) which can be adjusted to your height (raised or lowered) so you don’t have to sit in a tensed, unnatural position and have to suffer cervical neck pain, general back pain and tension or cramps under chin.

Chin cramps when yawning

What causes painful chin cramps?

The actual causes that lead to muscles under the chin cramping painfully are:
1) Magnesium deficiency. A pronounced magnesium deficiency causes painful cramps and spasms in almost all muscles. Actually, magnesium deficiency is a leading cause of not only chin cramps, but also calf cramps and even shin cramps, eyelid twitching, thigh muscle twitching or throbbing, foot cramps etc.

2) B vitamins deficiency. Next to magnesium, a serious deficiency of any of the 8 essential B vitamins can manifest as muscle spasms, twitching or painful cramps. This is because B vitamins are responsible for protein synthesis, contributing to building muscles as well as help promote the health of the nervous system network that coordinates muscle contractions for movement and various other purposes. Without enough of these vitamins, muscles don’t function properly and spasms and cramps can occur more easily.

3) Potassium deficiency. Potassium is known as an electrolyte and its main function is to maintain fluid balance in the body. And its effects are not restricted to the cardiovascular system. Actually, potassium ensures the medium of communication between the brain, nervous system and all muscles, helping propagate electrical impulses between them. These impulses coordinate muscle contractions directly and a potassium deficiency can result in abnormal muscle contractions such as painful chin cramps.

4) Fatigue. There are two ways fatigue can lead to chin and other cramps: first by depleting our reserves of essential nutrients needed to regulate the activity the nervous system and communication with muscles and, secondly, by over-working muscles through repetitive movements. Sleep deprivation further contributes to such effects and, together with extreme physical tiredness, increases the likelihood of chin cramps.

5) Stress and anxiety. These mark another form of fatigue: mental fatigue. Believe it or not, mental fatigue can be easily brought on by on-going periods of stress and anxiety regarding various aspects of one’s life. Both stress and anxiety not only increase our requirements of essential vitamins and minerals needed for the proper functioning of the nervous system, but also cause nutrient deficiencies that manifest in the most surprising ways, from cramps underneath the chin to difficulty breathing or brain fog.

6) Dehydration. Very often, all sorts of muscle cramps and spasms are caused by dehydration. If you feel thirsty, have a dry mouth or dry, chapped lips, thick saliva or crave watery foods, drink coffee everyday or alcohol, then you need to up your intake of water to prevent dehydration and chin cramps and other painful muscle contractions. Still water is a good choice, but naturally sparkling water which contains electrolytes and minerals (magnesium, potassium, sodium and calcium) is even better for dehydration.

7) Other causes. Although rare, cold and low temperatures felt on the neck, air draft directed at the neck and chin can potentially lead to chin cramps or accentuate muscle cramps and muscle aches in general.

What to do when you have a cramp under the chin?

1) Massage the area underneath the chin. Do so quickly and firmly to help ease the muscle contraction and interrupt the painful cramp. Insist on massaging the cramp away, even though it may be really painful. It will help relieve the pain in a matter of seconds.

2) Apply heat. Remember that this is only useful if you have a source of heat available in that moment and when massaging under the chin does not relieve the contraction. If you are using a infrared lamp regularly and happen to have a chin cramp when at home, direct the warm heat under the chin. In a few minutes the muscles should warm up and start relaxing which should improve the pain. Massaging the chin while applying heat can help even more.

3) Stretch and exercise the muscles. Some people find relief for chin cramps by lifting the chin up, massaging the muscles and then doing some flexing exercises like opening and closing the mouth.

4) Take a magnesium supplement. As soon as the cramp under the chin is over, get yourself some magnesium (150 mg or 300 mg magnesium) to help the muscles recover and prevent further contractions. It helps to also have some potassium too.

5) Drink water. Whether it’s still water you drink with the magnesium or a glass of naturally sparkling water rich in electrolytes and minerals, it should help a lot.

Sometimes, chin cramps when yawning can be felt at the base of the tongue, in which case they are often referred to as tongue cramps. If you feel the muscle contraction affects the tongue rather than the area under the chin, then it is possible it is actually a different medical issue and should be investigated by a doctor. If the pain radiates to the jaw and ear, then it is likely temporomandibular pain, or jaw and ear pain. Again, it is best to see a doctor in this case.


Cramps under the chin are quite common occurrences, almost as common as leg cramps at night or eyelid twitching. Generally, they are harmless and do not produce any long-term side effects. However, like with all things health-related, it always helps to see your doctor for a consultation, even if it’s just to know you are okay. Your doctor will rule out any potentially serious underlying conditions so you can rest easily and just focus on preventing and relieving those painful chin cramps.

This post was updated on Saturday / August 1st, 2020 at 1:29 AM

11 thoughts on “Cramps Under Chin: Causes, Symptoms and Solutions”

  1. I have chin cramps often, I can feel it coming and can quickly massage it away. It is very painful, I will take magnesium and potassium tablets to see if it eases.

    • Yes, chin cramps can be so painful sometimes. I would really appreciate your feedback on magnesium and potassium supplements for chin cramps treatment. I know the magnesium in particular really worked for me, but I am curious to know if you get the same results. Wishing you lots of health, Stephen!

  2. I have a chin cramp I have had it for a day now I haven’t been able to eat because it cramps when I swallow and eating or drinking makes it worse I feel like crying I feel so miserable someone help me.

    • Hello, Hailey. Have you tried massaging the area gently to help the muscles relax? Avoiding the cold should also favor muscle relaxation and help relieve the chin cramp. A infrared lamp could help by warming the area and encouraging the contracted muscles in your chin to relax, if you have access to one. Staying hydrated and even taking some magnesium could be useful remedies. It could help to puree food so you aren’t required to chew too much – this could help the cramp go away faster. I’m really sorry to hear about it. I’ve had chin cramps myself and know just how painful and debilitating they can be. Hope this helps and wishing you lots of health, Hailey!

  3. I have has this “problem” for years. It used to be only after a yawn, and very sporadically. I never knew what is was, and never much talked about it because people thought I was nuts. For years I just sucked it up when it happened. I rubbed the knot and it went away. I was a bit sore the next day, and that was that. I did speak to some Dr’s about it and even they were confused as to what I was describing. Then last year, my wife said, “It sounds like a cramp”.

    Until my wife said that, I was unable to find anything online about my pain. And this article is probably the most I have ever seen written about it.

    My new issue in regards to this thing is now, instead of happening (as it has for years) after a yawn sometimes, it now can happen at any time. Brushing teeth, talking, turning my head etc. It still does not happen often, but when it does, instead of completely going away after the messaging (as it always did in the past) it now will come back repeatedly for 5-15 minutes. I basically have to just sit completely still or it comes back!


    • Hello, Rod. It really is a step forward that you’ve identified them as chin cramps. And it should help you best describe them to a doctor. Because it is a good idea to see one considering the chin cramps have intensified and become more frequent and last longer. It could be because of something as simple as cold weather which has more of an effect on the muscles. It could be a nutrient deficiency that affects muscle contraction and relaxation, such as a magnesium deficiency. It could be stress, anxiety, tiredness, dehydration or a number of other causes. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a doctor take a look and identify the cause of your chin cramps. Next step will be addressing it to stop the cramps.

      In the meantime, maybe it could help to avoid tough foods that are hard to chew and instead eat softer food, pureed, to reduce the likelihood of chin cramps. Stay hydrated, making sure you get both enough water and electrolytes (magnesium, potassium, calcium, sodium – but not excessive amounts of sodium). Continue to massage the chin muscles to help the cramps go away, maybe also use an infrared lamp to heat the muscles and help them relax, if you have access to one. Really hope this helps, Rod, and looking forward to hearing back from you with updates!

  4. I always know when my thyroid medication needs to be increased first sign for me is the under the chin muscle cramping. I also get cramping in my muscles around my ribs sometimes just by bending over and my thyroid is always the culprit.

  5. Sir, I have the same problem and I am following the rule given to you. Let me tell you this when we are massaging, do it with oil or without oil. I sing sir and sing it and tell me when Until this problem is running, I leave singing or singing a little bit.?

    1=Sir, I had to ask one more thing, we can use mobile at night or late night or not?

    2=Sir, this problem has been going on for the past four to five years.

    3=Sir, I have to go sing after 2 days, in many places, tell me how I will be able to handle it.?

    4=Sir had to ask one more thing if we do not have a lamp, then we can use the heater.?

    Sir plz reply me, sir I’m tired of this problem too much.

    • Hello, Naman. Since your chin cramping has been going on for the past four to five years, it’s best you see a doctor as soon as possible. In the meantime, you can try to ease the cramping by eating soft foods that don’t require much chewing, keep massaging the area under the chin gently, (if you do not have an infrared lamp to use for muscle cramps) apply a warm compress such as a warm towel to the area in an attempt to calm down potential cramping and, if possible, take as many breaks as possible from talking and singing etc. And again, please see a doctor as soon as you can. Wishing you lot of health, Naman.

  6. Hello sir, it’s Manpreet here.
    Sir I am suffering from the problem of underchin cramps for the last 3-4 years. As I am a singer, so I feel very much uncomfort and irritation during singing. I am doing massaging and heating under my chin regularly but that is not giving me much benefit. I belongs to Punjab( India) and there is no specialist doctor regarding my problem to whom I can visit. So please help me sir and suggest me some references. Please reply as fast as possible. Thank you sir

    • Hello, Manpreet. Given that your chin cramps are relentless and you have been experiencing them for 3-4 years continuously, I think you need to make an effort and see a doctor, a general practitioner, not necessarily a specialist. Tell the doctor when the chin cramps first started and if you can associate them with a possible trigger (injury to the chin area, dental work, anesthesia, yawning etc.). Think about any other symptoms you can associate with the painful chin cramps. Until then, you may try to take a break from singing and avoid talking too much. Eat soft foods that require little chewing and similar tips from the article.

      Also, have you tested your magnesium levels? Often times, painful muscle cramps such as cramps under the chin, calf or shin cramps, twitching such as eye twitching, pins and needles sensations and all sorts of muscle contractions can be triggered by a magnesium deficiency. Other nutrient deficiencies to check for in addition to magnesium are potassium and B vitamins. Really hope this helps.
      But remember: your issue needs to be investigated by a doctor. Any doctor you can make an appointment with. Looking forward to hearing back from you with good news!

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