Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. Although they tend to be less severe than migraines, people with tension headaches can experience almost daily chronic pain that can make it hard to live a normal life.
Tracking down the causes of tension headaches can be hard. Sometimes, it can be linked to a specific stimulus, like stress, which leads to tension in jaw and neck muscles. But for people who have chronic tension headaches, the answer may not be so easy. Now, though, researchers have discovered what they believe to be an important link: people with tension headaches often have weak neck muscles. This helps explain the link between tension headaches and TMJ.
Linking Headaches and Neck Weakness
For this study, researchers wanted to see if problems in neck and shoulder muscle function were linked to tension headaches. To test it, they took 60 patients with tension headaches and compared them to 30 healthy age- and sex-matched controls. They found that people with tension headaches had weaker neck and shoulder muscles and were less able to hold their heads steady as a result. In addition, people with tension headaches were also more likely to have tender neck muscles.
Not a Proven Treatment Option
After linking neck weakness to tension headaches, researchers started the headache sufferers on different programs to try to improve neck stability and strength. Some people were given strength training exercises using an elastic band. Others were given posture control exercises.
Over 10 weeks, both groups showed improvement in their neck strength. But the researchers didn’t report that this reduced the headaches of patients.
TMJ Treatment Can Help
Ten weeks should be enough time to detect a headache reduction from a treatment like this. But part of the reason why they couldn’t detect the difference is that neck strength might not be the actual cause of the link.
Instead, the problem could be TMJ. Jaw dysfunction can impact both neck posture and muscle tension in the head. We know that TMJ can make it hard to get stable chiropractic adjustment. Having an unstable jaw can lead to inefficient function of the head and neck muscles, which can lead to tension. Until the jaw is stabilized, it may be difficult for many people to have strong, healthy neck function. TMJ treatment provides that necessary jaw stability.
If you are suffering from chronic tension headaches, but treatments from your doctor, chiropractor, or physical therapist aren’t working, TMJ treatment may be what you need. For help with headaches in River Edge, NJ, please call 201-343-4044 today for an appointment with a TMJ dentist at the River Edge Dental Center for TMJ, Sleep Apnea, & Reconstructive Dentistry.