Dr. Shapira's Chicago Headache Blog

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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Neuromuscular Dentistry treats Migraines, Tension-Type Headaches, Chronic Daily Headaches and Sinus Pain related to Trigeminal Nerve and TMJ Disorders

Chronic pain is frequently multifactorial in nature. Neuromuscular dentistry has been very successful in treating TMD, Migrines, Tension Type headaches and other disorders. Frequently it is not a total cure but 50-80% reduction in pain is usually attained within several visits. There are many disorders and symptoms associated with TMD including:
Ear Aches or Otalgia
Sinus Pain
TM Joint Clicking and Popping
Ear Stuffiness or Eustacian Tube Dysfunction
Temporal Pain
Occipital Headaches
Morning Headaches
Sleep Apnea
Sore Throats
Neck pain or stiffness
Feelings of a foriegn object in the throat
Pain in or behind the eyes
Scalp pain or feeling like your hair hurts

Most of these symptoms are mediated by the Trigeminal nerve and the Trigeminovaqscular system. These Nerves also connect to facial nerves, occipital nerves, glossopharyngeal nerves and to the autonomic nervous system. What happens in these nerves cause biochemical changes in the brain. Recent stuies shown the neural plasticity can create permanent changes in the brain. If chronic pain is the stimulus it can lead to central sensitization.

Changes inthe brain can be reversed over time but the exact amount of recovery will vary with individual patients genotypes, how long the pain has been present , other comorbidities that the patient carries. Some patients experience immediate3 and almost miraculous pain relief while others have a slower longer version of recovery. I always tell my patients to work for 50 - 80% improvement in pain. That is then our new starting point and we again seek 50 - *0 % reduction in pain.

There is "no cure" for long term chronic pain because lives have been changed due to living with pain. A cure would require a do-over of the years you had pain. There are no do-overs therefore we look to improve your future quality of life to the maximum. Some patients still have to do exercises or watch diet or even continue different medications. Other patients have remarkably and incredible improvements as described by Dr Barry Cooper in Cranio where he talked about "overwhelming success". This is why we use a diagnostic orthotic as the first step of treatment. We try to avoid permanent changes until the patient feels substantially improved. This is not a judgement that any doctor can make for the patient. It is a subjective evaluation by the patient themselves. Only the patient knows how well or poorly they are doing. We may have objective data showing physical improvement but the final test is have we improved or dramatically improved the patients quality of life. If the answer is yes we can talk about long term stabilization. The diagnostic orthotic is the first phase of treatment for those patients.

If the patient has improvement, whether it is only 25-30% or if they are at 80-90% the decision that the diagnostic orthotic treatment is successful remains the patient's. If they do not feel sufficiently improved they should not feel pressured into continuing treatment or making permanent changes. You should treat the diagnostic orthotic like a CAT SCAN or MRI but instead of images we have improvement in the quality of life. If improvement is not sufficient then a diagnostic approach should continue.


TMJ disorders are frequently called The Great Imposter ("SUFFER NO MORE: DEALING WITH THE GREAT IMPOSTER" IS A MUST READ FOR ANY PATIENTS WITH MIGRAINES OR TMD http://www.sleepandhealth.com/story/suffer-no-more-dealing-great-impostor) but we must remember that other disorders can also masquerade or more frequently coexist with these problems. Many times a diagnostic orthotic relieves many of the symptoms but the remaining symptoms have a different cause. The expression that "you can't see the forest for the trees" applies. When the majority of symptoms are relieved you now find that you can identify a particular problem that was lost in a long and winding maze of symptoms. As NMD unravels the maze a specific problem can now be identified and treated.

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posted by Dr Shapira at 5:12 PM

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