Recently a patient came complaining of severe migraines accompanied with vomiting and nausea early in the morning and frequent episodes of day-long migraine for the last 10 years. The symptoms are made worse when chewing gum and tinnitus (ringing in the ear) is associated with the pain.
My impression was 'Text Neck' causing cervicogenic headache (neck-headaches). I guided my client through my treatment plan that would entail a referral to a neurologist if symptoms persisted. From this case I gathered that the jaw pain is usual a consequence of neck pain that then causes migraines. Chewing gum affects the temporomandibular joint (TMJ)- at the jaw that is responsible for migraines just as well as the neck.
How does it happen?
There is a strong correlation between posture dysfunction of the neck (cervical spine) and jaw joint (TMJ) by virtue of muscle coupling force mechanism around the neck and jaw. A dysfunctional cervical spine resulting from sustained poor posture can cause jaw joint pain. This dysfunction in the neck causes tension in the front belly of a muscle (digastric) that connects from the mandible (jaw bone) to a horseshoe-shaped bone (hyoid bone) situated in the front midline of the neck.
This attachment means that when the head is excessively bent forward the digastrics will exert a backward force on the jaw bone. With prolonged forward-bend at the neck due to sustained poor postures, the jaw bone joint attachment (mandible condyle) will be pushed back resulting to jaw pain, jaw jerking on closing mouth, swelling, increased muscle tension around the jaw muscles and other places in the skull.
Treatment of migraines associated with this condition will be based on findings on assessment by an experienced and trained physical therapist who would include the following based on the findings: Intra-oral myofascial (muscle and its covering) release; facial as well as neck, shoulder and back muscle release; therapeutic exercise rehabilitation programme. Remember to consult your doctor, physical therapist or dentist to find out the real cause of your migraines.
The writer is a physical therapist, Chiropractic & Physiotherapy Health Centre.