Headache and Jaw (TMJ) Pain

There are as many causes of headaches as there are types of headaches.

Headaches may originate from musculoskeletal causes such as; cervical and cranial nerves, tension in neck muscles, upper trapezius, jaw (TMJ) or head.

Musculoskeletal headaches, or tension headaches, are caused by poor posture, stress, and lack of sleep. Other causes of headache are numerous such as particular foods, alcohol, shallow breathing or breath-holding, sinus, fever, migraine. A previous concussion can cause tension in the cranium and predispose to headaches.

Muscular tension or trigger points may refer pain away from themselves into another related area of the body such as the head (some images of triggerpoint referral patterns are shown below).


From Travell and Simons' Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction

Jaw clenching or bruxing commonly results in headaches, neck, or shoulder pain. A splint from your dentist protects your teeth and the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), but does not prevent tension in muscles that cause pain and headache.  We release jaw muscles internally if required, this is gentle. Releasing tight muscles of the jaw interrupts a feedback loop of tension causing more clenching; clenching causes tension, and tension causes clenching.

Physiotherapists effectively treat headaches and jaw pain (TMJ).

Treatment of the neck with soft tissue massage, mobilisation and stretching has been shown to be very effective.

For more severe headaches a very gentle technique called Cranio-sacral treatment is most effective.  Therapy comprises of gentle hands-on treatment to release tight muscles, mobilise stiff joints, release compression on nerves, release tension in the jaw and restore movement of fluids within the spinal dura and cranium.

Other physiotherapy treatments include stretching techniques, neural mobilisation, laser therapy, strengthening esp of the deep neck flexors, and postural and workplace set up advice.   Exercises will be taught to restore muscle function. Methods of mindfulness and Yoga meditation also release stress to reduce jaw clenching.

At The Physio & Yoga Clinic in Crows Nest, your head (cranial nerves), neck and jaw (TMJ) are thoroughly assessed and treated gently. We look at your posture, feel for muscle tension and listen to you describe your lifestyle to determine the cause.

We treat the jaw comprehensively having done further study of Jaw (TMJ) pain. Releasing tight muscles in the jaw relieves trigger points and also interrupts a feedback loop of tension; clenching causes tension, and tension causes clenching. We have many suggestions to treat clenching and bruxing including using Yoga and breathing techniques, with Physiotherapy. Some examples are mindfulness and meditation to release stress, and there is so much more to be shown to you that is individual to you.


Here at The Physio & Yoga Clinic in Crows Nest, we are experienced in assessing and treating neck and Jaw (TMJ) pain.