Grinding your teeth while sleeping. Tension in the jaw muscles. Damage or injury to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). All these issues fall into a category called temporomandibular disorders (TMDs), and they can easily cause both jaw pain and headaches.
Most people are far more familiar with headaches than jaw discomfort. After all, research shows that 96% of people experience a headache in their lifetime, but it’s reported that 3.5% of Americans experience TMDs annually. A physical therapist can help you understand how your jaw pain and headaches could be linked. These specialists can also help you develop a physical therapy plan to treat both issues.
How are jaw pain and headaches connected?
The TMJ is more commonly known as the jaw joint. Each person has one TMJ on each side of their jaw, and this joint is surrounded by muscles and other structures. These structures help the TMJs move and keep them aligned properly.
However, an issue with a jaw muscle or the joint itself can lead to TMJ misalignment. In turn, this misalignment can cause pain in the jaw joint, which can radiate into the facial and jaw muscles. It’s this radiating pain that can make it feel like you have a headache. Also, the pain can cause muscles to tense up and lead to an actual headache. As long as the TMJ issue continues, so will the pain, tense muscles and headaches.
What can a physical therapist do to treat TMDs?
A physical therapist can build you a therapy plan designed to reduce your jaw pain and headaches. To build this plan, your physical therapist will first evaluate your jaw and head using various movement tests. They may also ask questions about your previous medical history and daily activities.
Using this information, your physical therapist will select the therapy methods that would be most effective. Some of the techniques your therapy plan for a TMD could include are:
- Manual therapy intended to realign the affected TMJ
- Therapeutic exercises designed to stretch and strengthen jaw muscles
- Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) that can break up adhesions and improve blood flow
- Virtual therapy sessions that allow you to work with a therapist via an online video feed
- At-home care sessions where you can work with a therapist in your home
Armor Physical Therapy offers treatment for jaw pain and headaches
Not sure where to turn for effective physical therapy for jaw pain and headaches? Our therapy specialists at Armor Physical Therapy are primed to help you find the care you need. We offer complimentary screenings that can pinpoint the root cause of your pain. Our team can then construct a personalized physical therapy plan for you that’s intended to reduce pain and prevent recurring jaw issues. We can even work closely with your dentist to ensure that you’re attacking your condition from every possible angle.
Contact us today for more information about our therapy services for TMDs or to schedule an initial appointment.