Headaches and TMJ Dysfunction

A large part of what I do in my practice every day is treat people with headaches, migraines and Temperomandibular Joint (TMJ) Dysfunction, as well as an array of shoulder and neck pain; these ailments can also be accompanied by referral pain into another part of the body.

Headaches and Migraines

Headache Trigger PointsHeadaches and migraines can ruin people’s daily lives. They are literally a pain in the neck! As can be seen from the picture opposite, trigger points can form in the muscles of the shoulder and neck, which can refer pain to another area of the body. In this picture, trigger points have formed in the sternocleidomastoid muscle (to find this muscle, look in the mirror and turn your head to one side), which is one of many muscles which are responsible for causing headaches and migraines. As can be seen from the picture, trigger points have developed in the belly of the muscle, but the pain or sensation can be felt behind the ear and along the forehead. There are many other muscles in the shoulder, neck, face, mouth and cranium areas which can also cause pain around the side and top of the head, into the eyes, and can contribute to symptoms of tinnitus and sinusitis. I regularly help people with all of these symptoms by deactivating and releasing trigger points, which in turn, eases or eradicates their pain. As a Neuromuscular Therapist, my main objective is to eliminate the source of the pain; once the source and reason for the pain has diminished, the symptoms will also diminish.

Temperomandibular Joint DysfunctionTMJ

The temperomandibular joint is one of the most overused joints in the body. It is used when opening and closing the jaw, as well as moving the jaw laterally, anteriorly and posteriorly; so essentially it is used when eating, talking, drinking, singing, chewing or grinding the teeth together (very common when sleeping). Tempero refers to the temporal bone and mandibular refers to the mandible or lower jaw bone. In between these two structures is a disc, which allows movement in the joint. There are four major muscles associated with controlling movement within the joint – the masseter, medial pterygoin, lateral pterygoid, and temporalis muscles. These muscles allow a healthy temperomandibular joint to move the disc forward and backwards within the mandibular condyle and create the opening and closing action of the jaw. However, in dysfunctional joints, the movement or range of motion can be severely restricted. The disc can become displaced and the person may experience a popping or clicking sensation. When the disc becomes lodged and stops gliding, it causes the jaw to lock. Other symptoms of TMJ dysfuntion include headaches, eye pain, ear ache with no infection, vertigo, dizziness, neck pain, sore throat, constant coughing, toothache with no infection, sinus pain, shooting neck pain, sore temples, sore cheeks, tinnitus and a host of other ailments. The treatment for TMJ dysfunction involves treating the neck, throat, jaw, mouth and cranium in order to release tension and trigger points and create better movement in the joint itself, which will also have a knock on effect and eliminate those painful symptoms mentioned above.