What has your Jaw got to do with headaches?
If you are a chronic teeth grinder or jaw clencher it has been suggested through research that this can be a trigger for tension headaches and migraines. This usually happens during stressful periods or of nighttime.
Let’s take a look at the structure of the jaw so we can know how to fix it.
Structure of the Jaw:
The jaw, known as the TMJ (temporomandibular joint), is the site where the upper jaw (maxilla) and lower jaw (mandible) meet, which can be located just in front of your ears. There is a small disc which acts as cushioning between the two levels of the jaw.
Motion of the jaw:
As you open your mouth, the jaw drops down to about 20mm (distance at the front of the mouth - top to bottom). It then slides forwards and downward, carrying the disc with it, to give you an extra 10-15mm of space. As you close your mouth the reverse happens and the disc slides backwards with the lower jaw.
In normal function of the TMJ, no clicking or popping should occur and all should slide symmetrically on both sides of the mouth. If it does click or pop, it is due to friction within the joint, which can lead to further problems down the track.
The jaw relies on functioning symmetrically on both sides, so if tension exists in the TMJ and the movement is altered, then headaches can be triggered from muscle strains from the dysfunction.
Open lock - disc and mandible slide too far forwards - difficulty closing mouth
Displaced disc - as mouth opens the mandible clicks forwards onto the disc
Over time back ligaments continue to stretch and progress from occasional clicking to more frequent clicking to locking of the jaw.
Osteopaths aim to decompress the joint, return you to full functionality, restore correct relationship of muscles on both sides.
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