Migraine / TMJ Treatment

Causes of Migraines / Headaches

Most causes of Migraine headaches are benign and can be managed with conservative treatment. The most common causes of headaches can be related to:

  • Muscular Tension
  • Stress
  • Poor Posture
  • Diet
  • Environment
  • Vascular Issues
  • Abnormal Spine Mechanics

Common Types of Chronic Headaches Include:

  • Migraines: severe recurring headaches, characterized by sharp pain and often accompanied by nausea, vomiting and visual disturbances.
  • Tension Headaches: headaches related to muscle tension and/or stress that can come and go and may be chronic in nature.
  • Cluster Headaches: headaches with intense pain that occur in clusters, usually followed by periods of remission.
  • Cervicogenic or Craniovertebral Headaches: headaches which are felt in the front or back of the head, occasionally around the eye, as a result of abnormal mechanics of the upper cervical spine. Often times nerves located in the upper cervical spine may be irritated reproducing head or face pain, without neck pain.

Dry Needling for Migraines/Headaches.

Dry Needling is an excellent treatment technique for Migraines/Headaches. Dry needling involves inserting long filament needles deep into the trigger points or knotted parts of the muscles, temples and other areas. Dry needling alleviates the tension without inflicting additional pain or discomfort that can be experienced with deep tissue or remedial massage.

The active trigger points refer pain that mimic the symptoms experiencenced with headaches and migraines. These trigger points can also cause headaches and migraines to occur. The most common muscles affected are the upper trapezius, sternocliedomastoid, levator scapulae, temporalis and masseters.

Our physical therapists are the leading experts in Dry Needling in Indianapolis and in the state of Indiana.

Other Treatment for Migraines/Headaches?

The proper treatment depends on several factors including the type and frequency of the headache and its cause. Not all headaches require medical attention. Management of migraines, tension, cluster or cervicogenic headaches may include education, deep tissue massage, other manual therapy techniques, ultrasound and Dry Needling.

How Can Physical Therapy Help?

Physical therapy will address posture, range of motion and joint mobility and strength. If, after a thorough evaluation of the patient by a physician, it is determined that physical therapy is a viable conservative treatment option, the patient can expect his or her treatment to include:

  • Skilled mobilization of the cervical spine
  • Education about job or lifestyle modifications
  • Postural correction exercises
  • Soft tissue manual therapy
  • Co-management with other health care providers

What is TMD?

Temporomandibular disorder (TMD), is a term that describes an entire group of disorders involving the temporomandibular joint or joints (TMJ).

The TMJs are the jaw joints. There is one on each side of your head just in front of your ear canals. Like many other joints in the body, they consist of:

  • Muscles that control joint movement
  • Ligaments that hold the bones together
  • Cartilage that provides a smooth surface for the bones to move on
  • A disc that helps with proper movement, of the bones
  • Elastic tissue that helps hold the disc in place

One or more of the above tissues can cause symptoms. In fact, studies suggest that one third of the population at any one time experiences TMJ symptoms such as pain with chewing, yawning, or jaw opening. Women seem to have TMJ problems much more often than men and it is estimated that 3-6% of the population might benefit from treatment.

There are a variety of temporomandibular disorders. The muscles (myogenous), joint(s) (arthrogenous), or a combination of the two may cause pain.

Since physical therapists treat muscle and joint problems, they are ideally suited to address a TMD. Moreover, a majority of patients diagnosed with TMD, also have associated neck pain. Both respond well to treatment provided by a physical therapist. No other healthcare practitioner is better suited to address both the TMD and neck pain.

When a physical therapist performs the examination, they will be able to classify you as having one or more of the following:

  1. An inflammatory condition
  2. Limited jaw range of motion
  3. Excessive jaw range of motion
  4. Arthrogenous Disc Displacement
  5. Jaw muscle pain
  6. Neck pain causing related headaches (sometimes mistaken as TMD)

Once the involved structures are identified, the therapist will be able to provide you with the appropriate treatment.

If you would like to learn more about how our TMJ specialists can help you out, please give us a call.

Elke’s Story

“When I first started therapy, I had achy pain and weakness in my back and shoulders, from being rear-ended in a car accident. Normal daily tasks such as driving and carrying groceries were uncomfortable and even painful. I didn’t feel like myself at all. The treatment I had at Fast Track included deep tissue work, muscle strengthening exercises, traction, laser and dry needling. In particular, the dry needling really helped release pent-up tension in my muscles from the accident. The most amazing difference I noticed was when I had dry needling on my jaw area for my TMJ issues that had resurfaced after the accident. The headaches that I had started having again stopped, and I almost felt as if I had a new jaw, as the tension was released and it didn’t feel tight and sore all of the time anymore. The muscle strengthening exercises were very helpful, too, and the traction felt like it helped realign my back and loosen it up. All of the therapy techniques worked really well together to help make my back and neck feel normal again. I mostly worked with Brian, who is extremely knowledgeable and thorough. He always took the time to do whatever was needed during my therapy sessions. Brian also has a very friendly and congenial manner, as did all of the therapists I worked with on the occasions that Brian wasn’t available. The entire staff, including the receptionists, were very pleasant and helpful. I would definitely recommend Fast Track to anyone needing physical therapy again. Thank you, Fast Track, for your excellent work!”

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