Headache and Jaw Pain

Headache and Jaw Pain

Causes and treatment of headaches and jaw (TMJ) pain.

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

Headaches may start from musculoskeletal causes such as pressure on nerves, or tension in muscles in the head and neck, or upper shoulders, or the jaw itself.

Musculoskeletal headaches, or tension headaches, are caused by poor posture, stress, and lack of sleep. Other causes of headache are many, such as; emotional stress, certain foods, eye strain, alcohol, shallow breathing or breath-holding, blocked sinus, a fever, or a clinical migraine (different from headache). A previous concussion can cause tension in the cranium and predispose you to headaches.

Muscular tension or tender points within the muscle called trigger points (shown below) may refer pain into another area of the body close by such as the head.


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 may protect your teeth and the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), but does not prevent tension in muscles causing headaches.

Physiotherapists treat headaches and jaw pain (TMJ).

Treatment of the neck with soft tissue massage, mobilisation and stretching can be very effective.

For more severe headaches a very gentle technique called Cranio-sacral treatment is most effective. This is a gentle hands-on fascial treatment that releases tight muscles, and compression on nerves. It can release tension in the head and jaw and relieve build-up of a feeling of pressure in the head that comes with some headaches.

Other physiotherapy treatments are ‘muscle energy’ stretching techniques, nerve mobilisation, laser therapy, strengthening of the deep neck muscles, and correction of postural and workplace set up.

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 TMJ or jaw 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.

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