Headache and Jaw (TMJ) Pain – Causes and Treatment

Physiotherapists treat headaches.

There are many different types of headaches, and causes of headaches.

Headaches can come from the neck, upper trapezius, irritation or ‘pinching’ of nerves in the top of the neck, muscle tension or trigger points, from cranial nerves such as the trigeminal nerve diet, tension or stress. A previous concussion can cause tension in the cranium or compression of neck joints and headaches.  

Jaw clenching or bruxing commonly results in headaches, neck, or shoulder pain. A splint protects your teeth and the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), but does not prevent tension in muscles that cause pain and headaches.

Physiotherapy and Cranio-sacral treatment are effective for treating headaches. 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. 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.

Other physiotherapy treatments are stretching, and strengthening exercises (esp of the deep neck flexors), and postural advice. Exercises can be shown to you to restore normal muscle function. Methods of mindfulness and meditation also release stress and help reduce jaw clenching.

Here at The Physio & Yoga Clinic in Crows Nest, we assess and treat the neck and Jaw (TMJ) for all the above conditions.