Relief for Jaw Pain and Headaches: Six Red Flags and Treatment Options
It’s hard to believe that the skull bones move, but holistic physicians have long known this to be true. When breathing in, internal pressure rises, causing the head to expand slightly. When breathing out, the opposite happens.
The closed kinetic chain involving the jaw and skull is known as the stomatognathic system. Nature has integrated jaw and cranial movement such that they are mutually dependent. Since a person chews as often as 1,500 times per day, any muscular imbalance in the jaw will cause temporal mandibular joint (TMJ) pain or dysfunction. This will also limit cranial bone movement, causing fibrous adhesions to form. This is called a cranial fault. Head trauma and birth can also cause cranial faults, which in turn, lead to TMJ dysfunction.
Dental problems like poor dentition or malocclusion can also lead to TMJ related headaches. Therefore a knowledgeable, and skillful dentist is one professional to consult.
Vertebral alignment also affects the head and jaw; everything is intertwined like cogs in a cogwheel. A spinal problem can therefore cause or prolong TMJ pain, headaches, or similar disorders. The atlas, or first cervical vertebra, is often associated with these symptoms because its misalignment can irritate the occipital nerve. Ergo, a chiropractor is essential for these cases.
While all types of doctors can diagnose TMJ disorders, a doctor versed in applied kinesiology is best qualified to assess and correct underlying muscular imbalances. Chiropractic doctors certified in applied kinesiology may offer natural therapies like spinal or cranial manipulation, soft tissue massage, acupuncture, etc. Normalizing muscle balance is an important key to normal jaw movement and pain relief.
This checklist is designed to help you evaluate if this problem applies to you:
1. Can you swallow while your mouth is slightly open?
2. Does your jaw click, pop, lock, or grind when you chew?
3. Does one eye/nostril look bigger than the other?
4. When opening your mouth wide, does it veer off to one side rather than staying midline?
5. Do you have difficulty fitting three knuckles in your mouth?
6. Are your headaches relieved by altering the way you breathe?
Answering yes to one or more of these questions means you have TMJ dysfunction. Ignoring the problem will likely trigger or worsen headaches, neck pain, and jaw pain. Seek professional treatment for relief.
For more information on applied kinesiology or to “Find an AK Dr” visit the International College of Applied Kinesiology online.