Head or Jaw Pain? Physical Therapy has the Solution!
Jaw Problems Cause a lot of Headaches
As a Physical Therapist, I see 4 or 5 patients daily who have complaints of headaches. Some patients have them every day and others a couple of times per week. People attribute the headaches to a variety of factors like allergies, hormones, neck pain, and stress, to name a few.
Personally, I have found that in 40% of the people suffering from headaches, there is a very strong correlation to jaw problems. Most patients are surprised by the findings but acknowledge that they have had jaw issues in the past. Some claim that the jaw has never been particularly bothersome and others confess to having been negligent about it.
Symptoms of Jaw Problems
Common findings associated with a jaw or TMJ problem are:
• deviations during opening or yawning
Pain is Often Not a Symptom
Surprisingly, pain is the least common symptom which likely explains why the other symptoms are ignored.
Nevertheless, whatever the symptom is, they all eventually lead to tightness of three important muscle groups in the jaw called the masseters, digastrics, and temporalis. Once these muscles get tight, they pull the jaw forward, and with that comes misalignments and pinched nerves of the neck.
Over a period of time, the neck assumes a forward head position and the upper bones of the neck start to impact the base of the skull in an abnormal way.
How a Headache is Created
This leads to pinching not only the nerves in that region but also important cells in the spinal cord that control blood pressure, breathing, etc. The pinching of this part of the nervous system can result in the radiation of pain to the skull, neck, and temporal region (area of the head directly above the ear) – which in common terminology is called a ‘headache’.
How Women’s Hormones Come into Play
Some women develop headaches only during their menstrual cycle. Is it possible that hormones and pinched nerves are related?
Yes. During the time around the menstrual cycle, the female hormones circulate in greater quantities within the bloodstream, causing more ligament laxity. Ligaments are the structures that hold bones in the proper position, one to another in all joints.
In this example, as the jaw is already misaligned, the ligaments of the jaw and upper neck become laxer and the result of this extra motion is pinching of nerves and more shifting of bones, resulting in more headaches or greater intensity headaches.
Physical Therapy Gets Great Results
Physical therapy plays a very important role first in diagnosing the main cause for the headaches, and then in implementing the correct and effective treatment. Treatment requires specific manual techniques in order to correct the misaligned jaw from outside as well as inside. The correction is maintained via specific and focused exercises for the jaw and neck that are taught to the patient. Headaches are an extremely common complaint.
As a physical therapist, I have excellent success in getting to the root cause of why they occur from a structural standpoint. Here at Root Cause Medical Clinic, the doctors work together as a team and we find that headaches are often multifactorial, meaning that more than one cause can be coming into play.
The beauty of our team approach is that all pertinent factors are addressed at the same time with the result, often, of no more headaches, including the worst types of migraines. It is a wonderful thing to no longer have headaches. Please let me know if I can assist you or someone you care about to get the correct treatment for this very treatable condition.
Do you need help with your health?
We have the tools to discover why you may be having trouble with a weakened immune system. It’s not difficult as long as you’re ready to make some dietary and lifestyle changes. If that sounds daunting, don’t worry. We will hold your hand through the changes and make each step of change an easy one.
Dr. Rupa Chakravarty DPT, OCS
Director of Physical Therapy at Root Cause Medical
Doctor of Physical Therapy, Orthopedic Certified Specialist
Dr. Chakravarty has numerous certifications for different techniques in Physical Therapy practice. She employs an extensive array of manual as well as exercise techniques to manage her patients’ symptoms during their course of therapy.