Headaches – Could your jaw be the cause?
If any of these symptoms sound familiar you may be suffering from a Tempero-Mandibular Disorder (TMD).
- Dull aching pain around the ear
- Pain around the back of the head or neck
- Difficulty opening the mouth wide
- Clicking or popping sounds in the jaw joint
- A “grating” feeling whilst chewing
- Tenderness or swelling around the facial area
- Ear ache
- A feeling that your teeth do not fit together properly
The Temporo-Mandibular Joint, commonly referred to as the TMJ, joins the jawbone to the skull in close proximity to the ears. Problems arising within these joints are often referred to as Temporo-Mandibular joint Disorders, or (TMD).
TMD can arise from many factors and sources, including external factors such as motor vehicle accidents, whiplash injuries, or dental work, as well as internal, such as grinding or clenching the teeth; lip or nail biting, or chewing your pen. Other influences may be genetic factors such as the way the teeth bite together, and it can even be triggered by emotional stress (anxiety, depression, anger).
Although it can occur at any age, most patients tend to be females in the 20- to 40-year-old age group.
If this sounds like you, never fear - there are a few things you can do yourself. Here are some tips for home care:
- Place a hot compress over jaw area
- Avoid chewing gum and stay away from chewy foods (steak etc.) in the short term
- Self massage (the muscles around the jaw
- Be aware of your posture – try to sit up straight
- Meditation, yoga for stress relief
Whilst self-management can be the first option, you can seek help if the symptoms do not subside. Osteopaths are trained to recognise the causes of headaches, not just the symptoms, and we believe that TMD is a treatable condition if managed correctly. So if headaches are affecting your life - put away those painkillers, and come in and see one of the osteopaths at Back in Health Osteopathy for an assessment today.