Physiotherapy for Headache and Jaw Pain in Edmonton
You try to concentrate through the headache pain, but there is just no way to think clearly. As you rub your forehead, trying for a little relief, you close your eyes, wondering what you can do to get rid of your headaches and jaw pain.
You may find yourself clenching your jaw, especially when you concentrate. Or maybe you grind your teeth in your sleep. You maybe even tried wearing a night guard from your dentist, but it just didn’t do the trick.
“Maybe it’s just stress,” you tell yourself. But if that’s the case, you’re going to have to find a way to live with the pain because the stress in your life isn’t going away any time soon.
Your office is set up the best you can manage, but it’s not perfect. You know you spend too much time in front of the computer, but that’s not something you can change. Work or school – poor posture, sitting too long, and screen time are just part of modern life.
It doesn’t take long for stress, poor posture, screen time, and sedentary work to add up to headaches and jaw pain.
The Cycle of Headaches and Jaw Pain
For many, a jaw condition called Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD or TMJ) was the beginning of the cycle.
Your temporomandibular joint works with other muscles to control the movements of your jaw. Every time you open or close your mouth, shift your jaw forward or back, or side to side, you work your jaw joint. Every word you say, every bite you take, and every emotion you express works your jaw joint and the muscles in your face.
You may recall on your wedding day or a special birthday that your face was sore by the end of the event from “smiling too much.” After a rest, your muscles recovered, and you didn’t have a headache the next day.
However, when your jaw doesn’t function properly, you may end up with both a sore jaw and headaches. As the headache gets worse, you tend to clench your jaw, which makes the jaw pain worse, which makes the headache worse… and so on! You can end up in a never-ending cycle of headaches and jaw pain.
Because the jawbone is so complex, any issues with the joint can cause pain and other side effects, including headaches. Although there are many other causes of headaches, problems with the jaw joint are quite common. Headaches resulting from tension and stress in your jaw may feel much like a tension headache causing pain on the sides and top of your head. You may notice your mouth won’t open all the way, or your face feels tight or painful.
In the Beginning – What Causes Headaches and Jaw Pain?
Open and close your mouth a few times right now. Listen closely for any clicking or popping noises. Watch as you open and close your mouth in front of a mirror. Does your jaw move asymmetrically? Does your mouth open unevenly toward one side or the other? Do you hear clicks when you yawn or chew?
Estimates suggest that more than 1 in 10 people have trouble with jaw pain, yet only about half seek treatment.
These could be signs of dysfunction in your jaw joint that can cause pain and headaches, but every jaw is different. So, you’ll need your physiotherapist at Revive Spine and Sport Physiotherapy Clinic in Edmonton to assess your condition. A thorough exam will get to the root cause of your jaw pain and headaches.
Common triggers for jaw pain and headaches include:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Prolonged periods of poor posture
- Whiplash injuries
- Excessive gum chewing
- Sports-related injuries
- Decreased movement
- Joint disorders
- Sleep disturbances
- Carrying or lifting heavy items
- Shoulder straps on a purse or backpack
- Non-ergonomic workstations
- Arthritis or other inflammatory musculoskeletal disorders
It can be hard to know what triggered a headache in the first place. Sometimes headaches start with a problem in your neck. These cervicogenic headaches are often misdiagnosed.
The pain usually starts at the base of your neck, then reaches up and around your head. The roots of neck nerves share a pain nucleus with the sensory nerve that carries messages from your face to your brain. This shared nerve track brings sensations that feel like muscle tension in your neck up until they explode into a full-blown headache.
Symptoms might get worse when you move your head or neck, which makes it likely that you will restrict your mobility. Over time, the tension increases, even more, making it even more difficult to move your head. You might also feel worse if you stay in one position for a long time, especially sitting at your computer workstation.
Determining the cause of headaches can be hard to pin down. Still, a comprehensive assessment from your physiotherapist helps determine the root cause.
Other symptoms may come along with jaw pain and headaches that seem unrelated. Aside from the headaches and jaw clicks, pops, pain, soreness, or tension, you may also have:
- Pain or tension in your neck, shoulders, and possibly down to your mid-back
- Ringing in your ears (Tinnitus,) ear pain, itchiness, a feeling of fullness, or noise sensitivity
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Tooth pain or sensitivity to heat, cold, or sweet
- Grinding your teeth, especially at night, and clenching your jaw (Bruxism)
- A change to the way your teeth fit together or your jaw locking up
- Muscle tension in your jaw and/or neck
- Difficulty swallowing
- Sensitivity to light
- Tenderness at the base of the skull
Sometimes, you can try to relieve some of the symptoms of headaches and jaw pain at home. You may find that over-the-counter remedies like ibuprofen help to reduce the pain in the short term. Another option is to apply an ice pack right on your jaw joint. When your symptoms continue after a few days, it’s time to call Revive Spine and Sport Physiotherapy Clinic in Edmonton.
How Physiotherapy Helps Jaw Pain and Headaches
The first step when you meet your physiotherapist at Revive Spine and Sport Physiotherapy Clinic in Edmonton is to tell your story. We understand that everyone is unique and that you know your pain best. If you hurt yourself, were in an accident, or had the pain creep up over time, tell your physiotherapist. Every detail helps.
Then, your physiotherapist will conduct a thorough assessment. They will check your strength, flexibility, and pain locations. They will also identify any referred pain areas, which give specific clues to how to undo the knots that keep your muscles tense and sore. You’ll receive a thorough exam of your posture, neck, and jaw.
Through this assessment process, your physiotherapist works to discover the root cause of your jaw pain and headaches.
The Customized Treatment Plan
Using the information from your assessment, your physiotherapist will develop a customized treatment plan for you. Every element of the plan considers your condition, your lifestyle, and your goals. Of course, the aim is to make sure you can live and work without pain.
Headaches and jaw pain are common problems among teenagers and adults. Physiotherapists help relieve the pain and other symptoms and address any underlying musculoskeletal malfunctions.
Physiotherapy treatments will be specifically tailored for you and usually includes several different therapies. Your physiotherapist may recommend therapies such as:
- Manual therapy
- Soft tissue massage
- Cervical mobilization
- Myofascial release
- Relaxation stretching
- Joint mobilization
- Corrective stretching
- Posture correction
- Dry needling
- Breathing and mindfulness techniques
- Active exercises for your shoulders and neck
- Sleep hygiene education
- Stress management
- Jaw exercises
- Mechanical cervical traction
- Cranio-cervical exercises
- Advice for position during daily activities
- Electric stimulation
- Dietary changes to decrease stress on your jaw joint
When your physiotherapist treats you for headaches and jaw pain, the aim is to reduce pain, improve mobility, strengthen muscles, and secure the correct joint alignment. If you have scar tissue, your physiotherapist will help treat that too.
Also, your physiotherapist will collaborate with your dentist or other healthcare providers, if necessary, to ensure you receive the best treatment possible. Plus, your physiotherapist at Revive Spine and Sport Physiotherapy Clinic in Edmonton will teach you techniques to regain normal jaw movement to reduce jaw pain and maintain long-lasting results.
Physiotherapy is highly effective in the treatment of headaches and jaw pain by restoring the interaction of your muscles and joints to normal function.
Make an Appointment at Revive Spine and Sport Physiotherapy Clinic in Edmonton
The place to start is with an assessment appointment with a physiotherapist at Revive Spine and Sport Physiotherapy Clinic in Edmonton. We’ll listen to you and make sure we get to the root cause of your headaches and jaw pain. There is no reason to continue to suffer! Most patients start to feel better very quickly, often after just one appointment.
And for most, over 6 weeks or so, the improvement is remarkable. In 6 weeks of physiotherapy treatment, research demonstrates positive long-term outcomes. You’ll receive self-management strategies for the long term to reduce the risk of jaw pain and headaches recurring. Call today!