What causes chronic headaches, TMJ (jaw pain)

Severe headaches or migraines can be debilitating, and when they become chronic and frequent, they can affect our quality of life. There are a lot of causes or contributing factors to chronic headaches, and Brian Horner, owner/director of Fast Track Physical Therapy joined us today to explain a few of them. Here’s more from him:

  • Genetics: 1 or both parents have chronic headaches.
  • Weather Changes: Air (barometric) pressure, temperature, and seasonal changes. I also see an increase in Vertigo during seasonal changes.
  • Rebound headaches: From taking pain meds, including over the counter (OTC) pain meds too frequently.
  • Food/drink/alcohol: Most of foods or drinks aren’t bad for you, but your body they may be the trigger for your headache. Keep a journal of foods/drinks that you have had just before a headache. Caffeine withdrawl.

The headaches that our Fast-Track clinics treat very successfully are:

  • Tension/stress headaches: These are headaches that are referred from muscle tension / spasms and trigger points. When muscles are in spasm they can cause pain in various areas of the head, base of the head, face, neck, and upper back. We utilize many techniques to get the muscles to release and relax, but we have found that Dry Needling usually will provide the quickest and most lasting benefit for tension headaches. We have had many patients come to our clinics that have dealt with daily headaches for years and have been able to almost resolve them completely.
  • Cervicogenic: Headaches that are because of abnormal mechanics of the upper cervical spine. Often nerves located in the upper cervical spine may be irritated reproducing head and face pain. This may occur with or without neck pain. Our therapists utilize many manual (hands-on) techniques to restore proper mechanical function of the cervical spine and reduce muscle spasm.
  • Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD): Headaches can also come from TMJ/Jaw dysfunction. When the mechanics of the jaw aren’t working correctly, muscles of the face are in spasm or there is inflammation in the jaw this can lead to headaches. TMD can also cause pain with eating, yawning, even talking. Our therapists are experienced and have additional training in TMJ disorders.

So, if your experiencing any of the many things that I’ve discussed we would be glad to assess your condition and see if we can help you. If you have had physical therapy in the past, medication or other medical care and didn’t get relief, I would give us a try. We have been able to help many people even when medicine or other medical practitioners couldn’t.

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