Migraines are one of the most commonly misdiagnosed headaches. The word migraine is thrown about haphazardly as if almost any bad headache is a migraine. This is simply not the case. Often there is nothing migranous about these headaches at all. And it matters because the treatment for each type of headache is very different.
Migraines can be debilitating. They are awful and they affect up to 3 Million Australians. Nearly one quarter of all households has at least one migraine sufferer. And according to Headache Australia, the cost to our nation is estimated at $1Billion every year.
True migraines can ruin lives. They can prevent people from functioning in normal life for considerable periods of time. There are very specific symptoms that define a migraine. These can often be scary and may need to be checked by a doctor to rule out anything dangerous. As osteopaths we can determine if something is serious enough to need referral another doctor. However, once the nasty things such as stroke, and brain tumours have been ruled out, then that is when the confusion begins even amongst specialist doctors.
The forgotten part of headaches… The JAW
Diagram Showing Nerves of the Jaw
The jaw is controlled by a very important nerve called the Trigeminal nerve (the green, pink and yellow parts of the head shown above). This nerve is so important that it makes up nearly half of all our physical sensations. That is not surprising as it controls feeling for the face, the eyes, lips and tongue… the most sensitive parts of our body.
One of the things that can irritate and over-stimulate the trigeminal nerve is jaw grinding and clenching. This then causes the nerve to fire-off pain in the areas shown above. It might seem like a migraine, but it is not, it is coming form the jaw.
Muscles of the Jaw
The muscles of the jaw are big and powerful. By clenching and grinding all night long they become tight and painful. Do you think that the upper jaw and face appreciate being pounded all night by the bottom jaw… of course not. That is why the jaw muscles cause pain in the pattern seen in the head image above.
All tension headaches sufferers and most migraine sufferers need to have their jaw treated. Most therapists are not familiar, and not comfortable treating the jaw. Sometimes we need to put on a glove and treat these muscles from inside the mouth. If your therapist has not done this when treating your headaches, then they have missed the most likely cause of your pain.
As osteopaths we are uniquely trained to treat jaw, TMJ and headaches in surprisingly effective ways.
To book an appointment, call 1300 696 783. Or you may book an appointment online.
There are also some very helpful exercises on the website that you can use to help yourself.
Wishing you health, happiness and comfort.