Many people suffer from occasional headaches. You pop an Advil or Tylenol and in about an hour, your pain is gone. But there is a large population who suffer from chronic headaches, migraines or TMJ (Tempero Mandibular Joint) pain. For these folks, their pain is not an unusual occurrence. They are plagued with pain and fatigue, often on a daily basis. It interferes with their life. They miss out on family and social functions or are suffering at work because they can’t concentrate on anything but their pain. In severe cases, migraine pain can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting, light and sound sensitivity and dizziness.
Migraine Treatment & Headache Treatment
Traditional medicine treats migraine, headache and TMJ pain with an overabundance of medications. Many of these drugs have serious side effects and are expensive when used over a long period of time. Over time, their effectiveness tends to diminish, forcing the patient to switch to another drug, hoping that it will cure their disease. The truth is that most of these drugs merely mask the symptoms, rather than addressing the cause.
Dr. Alfe has been treating migraine, headache and TMJ pain patients, non-medicinally, since 1999. Many patients suffer from pain because of clenching and grinding their teeth, either at night, during the day or both. Dr. Alfe trained with some of the nation’s leading TMJ and migraine pain specialists and has first-hand experience with the negative effects of tooth clenching and jaw muscle disharmony.
More than half of medically-diagnosed migraine patients are victims of over-active and spastic chewing muscles. One of the biggest chewing muscles, the temporalis, sits over your entire head like a skull cap. The other largest one, the masseter, connects your upper and lower jaws and sits under your cheeks. When these muscles are in spasm, especially overnight, you may wake up tired or sore with teeth that may be tender as well. Other common symptoms are pain behind the eyes, in front of the ears, chronic sinus pain and painful swallowing.
Over-active muscles are the cause of this type of pain and it can be exacerbated by stress, trauma, orthodontic treatment, removal of wisdom teeth or an irregular bite (under bite, over bite or cross bite are the most common). Dr. Alfe can diagnose your condition with the JVA, the TekScan and a full head and neck exam along with a detailed medical and dental history. Once you know the contributing factors, you and Dr. Alfe can arrive at a treatment plan that is specialized for you.
Among the treatment options Dr. Alfe uses are:
- NTI-tss™ Mouthguard
- Aqualizer Mouthguard
- TENS therapy
- Bite reconstruction
- Botox® Treatment
- Referral to a physical therapist trained in TMJ and migraine pain
Both the NTI-tss™ mouth guard and Botox® have been FDA approved in the treatment of migraines. Sometimes a combination of therapies works best in the beginning to break the cycle of clenching and grinding.
Botox®, as many know, works to relax tensed muscles. It is necessary to have repeated injections, as Botox® dissipates over time and the muscles will return to their original over-active state.
Bite reconstruction may involve polishing some teeth that are getting in the way when the patient tries to close her mouth or chew. Sometimes it involves polishing some teeth and building up others. It can involve orthodontic treatment, as well, to move the offending teeth out of the way.
For those who prefer a completely non-invasive treatment, a combination of one of the mouth guards, TENS therapy and physical therapy may be the solution.
Having treated debilitated pain patients for many years, Dr. Alfe knows how badly chronic pain can negatively impact your life. Call or email Chicago Smiles Spa today to schedule your TMJ/headache examination.