It is estimated that 20% of the population suffers from daily or weekly headaches, including common migraine headaches. Many of whom, do not get relief and learn to live with the pain. Pain is never normal, and for those of you who are living with it there may be a solution if you look deeper…
Tension headaches are the most common type of headache, which as suggested by the name come from STRESS. When a person is dealing with high levels of stressors (i.e. job, finances, relationships, etc), the sympathetic nervous system kicks into overdrive. This is the part of your nervous system in charge of “fight or flight” situations, meaning it gets you ready for action, or puts your body on alert. When this system is constantly being activated, it increases muscle activity, specifically speaking here, in the muscles around the head, jaw, and neck. Have you ever noticed you are clenching or grinding your teeth? Are your top teeth touching your bottom teeth? (They should never be touching!)
The tension in these muscles can cause jaw pain, or pain around the TMJ (temporomandibular joint), neck pain, headache that feels like it is coming from your sinuses, headache behind the eye(s), sensitive or ringing in the ears, and/or phantom toothaches. Quite a list, considering is it just stress, right?
Research has shown that the primary site of tension headache pain is located in the temporalis muscle (located right above your ears) and the nerve that supplies it, trigeminal. The constant stress put on this nerve from muscle tension can lead to common migraine headaches, and of course nausea, sensitivity to light, etc that come along with it. Over time, it can also begin to damage the TMJ joint itself.
Added to the muscle tension, we use our jaws over 5,000 times a day to talk, eat, and swallow. And if you have a “bad bite” or malocclusion (which includes overbites, openbites, crossbites, crowded teeth, or missing teeth), it complicates the situation even further!
If you relate to any of the symptoms/problems above, chiropractic care can help. A neurological, orthopedic, chiropractic, and muscular evaluation will help determine the cause of your pain. From there, an individual treatment plan is constructed. If there is a dental issue, it is important to also receive treatment from your dentist, which may include an orthopedic appliance to assist with muscle relaxation and prevent further wearing of your teeth.
Just remember, it’s never normal to feel pain. Life is short, there’s no point to spending any of it in pain!