TMJ, MIGRAINE, HEADACHE
Dr. Jennifer Luis, BSc., BEd., NDNaturopathic Physician Read Biography
For chronic sufferers of headaches and migraines, activities of daily living can be difficult. There are multiple reasons for pain, but sometimes the root cause is very challenging to determine. Tight muscles, eye strain, dehydration, lack of sleep and stress are the more common triggers. However systemic causes such as estrogen, thyroid dysfunction, food sensitivities, refined sugar, mold illness, yeast overgrowth, blood sugar and insulin swings also make the list. A detailed history and recording of events around the pain can guide a path towards determining the cause.
Neurologists now use non-prescriptive agents such as B vitamins, magnesium and CoQ10 for migraines. Pharmaceutical injections of botulinum toxin are also implored and offer relief for 3-6 months. Injections are strategically mapped out based on the pain pattern and the muscles involved. By lowering nerve impulses to the affected muscles, less substance P (the molecule responsible for pain in humans) is also released and pain patterns can be weakened or halted temporarily.
The temporal-mandibular joint (TMJ) connects the jaw to the skull. The large masseter muscles which are responsible for chewing and closing the jaw tightly can grow even larger with teeth grinding (bruxism). If articulating bones at the joint are displaced, repeated motion such as chewing or grinding can cause pain at the site or headaches. Techniques to lower stress, chew softer foods, dental appliances and types of massage or tissue manipulation can sometimes help to decrease pain. Magnesium is indicated for releasing tight muscles and is a go-to mineral for TMJ disorders. For some individuals, food sensitivity and imbalanced digestive flora are also areas to test and treat.
Injection therapy is commonly used to decrease the size of masseter muscles which lowers and sometimes resolves pain. Specific locations on the strongest part of the muscles are targeted using botulinum toxin and can provide up to 6 months of pain relief. One temporary side effect is jaw-slimming because the muscles weaken. Extended benefits may cover this therapy.
Determining the cause behind pain is always part of treatment, please contact our clinic for more details.