Could your Headache be Coming from your Jaw?
Stress and Tension, we all have it to various degrees and it manifests itself in various places in different people. Some people carry it in their shoulders, some get IBS or some get headaches. Headaches can start in the base of the skull and come up over the head, they can be located over the eyes or by the temples.
How is the Jaw involved?
The Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) connects the mandible (your lower jaw bone) to your temporal bone (upper jaw bone or skull). The Temporomandibular Joint is a complex joint that includes an articular disk (located in between the bones in the TMJ). Numerous muscles (masseter, temporalis and pterygoids to name a few) act to open and close the jaw. Clenching and grinding of your TMJ will cause the muscles that close the joint to become tight and when they are tight enough they become tender to the touch and start to ache.
How do I know if my TMJ is contributing to my headache?
Symptoms of Temporomandibular (TMJ) Disorder vary greatly and can include:
- temporal headaches, especially in the morning
- clicking, popping, or grating noises with jaw movement
- reduced mobility or locking of the TMJ
- jaw pain
- ear pain
- tightness in the muscles of the cheek
- wear patterns on the teeth
What should I do for my headaches?
Physiotherapy can help tremendously. Manual physiotherapists have advanced training in TMJ dysfunction and will determine the cause of your TMJ symptoms through the examination of:
- Postural alignment
- Cervical spine assessment
- Quality and quantity of your TMJ movement including assessing for joint “noise”
- TMJ muscle length, strength and co-ordination
How would a physiotherapist treat it?
Many techniques can be used and include but are not limited to:
- Soft tissue release techniques
- manual mobilizations of the cervical spine and the TMJ
- Gunn IMS or acupuncture
- posture education
- muscle rebalancing exercises
If you think your headaches may be coming from your TMJ, our physiotherapists can help. Please contact us for relief!
Suzie Foreman, Physiotherapist
Suzie Foreman is a registered physiotherapist practicing at Rebalance Sports Medicine in downtown Toronto.