Headaches and Migraines

Headaches can be divided into three major divisions: Primary Headaches, Secondary Headaches and Cranial Neuralgias. In addition, these can be divided into fourteen separate categories.

Experiencing Headaches or Migraines? Our TMJ Dental Experts in Raleigh, NC Can Help!

Primary Headaches:

These are headaches which have no consistently identified organic cause. In addition, these can have an organic source; it’s just that the source has yet to be found. The category of primary headaches includes the most common types of headaches: Migraines and tension-type headaches. While these are the most common, they can be characterized by the absence of structural tissue pathology, similar to myofascial pain, irritable bowel, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and restless leg syndrome. Migraines affect over 23 million people with 75 percent of them being women. They are often misdiagnosed (sinus infection) and overly treated with drugs.

There are no medical tests for migraines; they are diagnosed based on subjective symptoms. What most practitioners overlook is the muscular nature of these types of headaches, specifically the muscles of the head and neck that are fatigued or in spasm as a result of a misalignment between the lower jaw and the upper jaw. The medical model for migraines is medicine, not treatment. The Neuromuscular model for this is to solve the problem with the muscles causing the pain, and resolve this with treatment. Finding the proper alignment between the upper and lower jaw often resolves the problem. Medicine blocks the pain but does not resolve it. Proper treatment resolves the pain without the use of drugs.

Secondary Headaches:

Headaches in this category are those due to intracranial infections, tumors, trauma, psychiatric disorders, drug and substance abuse or withdrawal. These are medically related and should be treated by a properly trained physician. Lyme disease and temporal arteritis are two examples of these types of headaches

Cranial Neuralgias:

Simply put, cranial neuralgias can come in many forms. Examples are burning mouth syndrome, idiopathic facial pain and facial pain due to multiple sclerosis. It is important to establish a diagnosis of these types of pain prior to initiating treatment, keeping in mind that some symptoms overlap other organic causes, such as numbness in the hands caused by MS which can often be misdiagnosed. These types of paresthesias can be caused by a forward head posture, rounded shoulder and collapse of the shoulder muscles onto sensitive nerves causing numbness. These types of symptoms should be treated neuromuscularly.

We feel that one of the biggest contributors to migraine type headaches is the poor relationship between the upper and lower jaws, as was previously described. Each time the jaws are brought together muscles are involved, and if the muscles spasm, pain results. Each day we swallow approximately 2000 to 3000 times, and each time the jaws come together. In the case of misalignment, the muscles become fatigued and can spasm. This releases lactic acid and carbonic acid into the muscles causing increased capillary pressure and reduced blood flow. This is a primary trigger of migraines.

Symptoms of Migraines:

  • Throbbing or dull pain on one or both sides of the head
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurred vision
  • Nasal congestion
  • Confusion
  • Anxiousness or restlessness
  • Cold feet and hands
  • Tender scalp
  • Lightheadedness

Please note: Each of these symptoms are symptoms of TMJD (tempormandibular joint dysfunction) and can be treated with Neuromuscular Dentistry. If you are currently being treated for headaches in Raleigh, NC, or are having migraine headaches and want to avoid medication, please call us for an evaluation. If we find that you have a bite problem and can help you, what do you have to lose — except your migraines!