Chewing on another cause of headaches | Physical Therapy for everyBODY
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Chewing on another cause of headaches

Headaches

Have you ever had a headache that started in your jaw?  Maybe you have noticed that you wake up with a headache the morning after eating a big meal.  Perhaps you grind your teeth at night and wake up every morning with a headache.  Some people chew gum all day long, causing jaw and head pain.

Have you ever wondered how jaw pain is related to headaches?

First, let’s do a brief demonstration.  I want you to take your pinky fingers and place them inside your ears with your pinkies facing forward.  You don’t have to shove them all the way in just enough that the pads of your fingers are inside.  Next I want you to open and close your jaw.  Do you notice that when you close your jaw a bony part butts into your pinky finger?  That is the TMJ (TemperoMandibular Joint)!

Congratulate yourself on finding your TMJ!

Now, the part that moves is your jaw bone also known as the mandible.  This is the “mandibular” in temporomandibular.  The part that stays still is the temporal bone.  You put the two together and you have the temporomandibular joint.  See, they really didn’t get that fancy when they named this stuff.

The part that stays still is connected to your skull.  This is one way that TMJ pain can radiate into a headache.  Often this pain will be described as “temple pain”.  People will point to one or both sides of their temples and say “it always hurts here”.  This is a common sign of TMJ pain.

There is also a big muscle called the temporalis muscle.  It helps you to do things like close your jaw and chew your food.  This muscle can be found by placing your hands flat on the sides of your head.  Open and close your jaw and you will feel this muscle activating.

This muscle covers the side of your head and can cause pain to travel up the side of your head.  People with this type of pain often point along the sides of their faces, up to the top of their head.  They describe the pain as going behind their eyeballs.  People with this type of TMJ pain often say their pain increases after eating.

What if you have pain that starts in the back of your neck and comes up over your head to the front?  This type of pain often starts from the upper neck.

Is it still related to the TMJ?

Often, yes.  You see, there are many small muscles that cross from the TMJ to the upper neck.  They are coordinated to work together to allow for very small motions in your upper neck and jaw.  So when the jaw starts becoming a problem, the upper neck will feel the effects too.  And the upper neck will send it’s pain up the back of the head, over the top, and down into the front.

So there you have it.  The TMJ can cause headaches along the temples of up the side of the head.  Further, the TMJ communicates with the upper neck which tends to send it’s headaches up the back of the head, along the top, and down into the forehead.

Do you suffer regularly from the headaches types described above?  Are you ready to find the real reason behind your pain and get rid of it once and for all?  Please contact us and we will get you scheduled for an absolutely free 20 minute consultation to see if we are a good fit for each other.


Dr. Amy Konvalin

Dr. Amy Konvalin

Struggling with pain and dysfunction can impact every part of our lives — it drains our energy, distracts us from our goals, and keeps us from the people and activities we love. As an Orthopedic Clinical Specialist, Dr. Amy Konvalin understands how frustrating those limitations can be — and she knows how to help get you back to the life you want to live! Beginning with a focused evaluation, Dr. Amy works to determine the root causes of your pain, as well as understanding how it affects the way you move through your world. Dysfunctional patterns of movement often grow worse with time and cause further damage if left untreated — so it’s important to address these issues as soon as possible. Dr. Amy knows there is no one-size-fits-all plan for success, and she partners with patients to identify their unique treatment goals and personal values. Using these goals as a guide, Amy uses her doctorate training in manual (hands-on) therapy and exercise prescription to treat patients with a wide variety of medical challenges and histories throughout the Maple Valley, Black Diamond and Covington areas. Dr. Amy is also a wife to a Boeing superstar/former C-130 navigator. While they lived in Germany, Dr. Amy was able to volunteer with the US Army to treat military personnel and civilians on base. She has two beautiful teenage ballerinas who keep her on her toes and educate her on all things ballet! Bailey, the princess pup, is her running partner and her napping partner. In the spare moments in between, Amy enjoys reading, yoga, wine with friends, Pilates, and walking on the beach.
Dr. Amy Konvalin

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