Headaches, Temporomandibular dysfunction or TMJ, and neck pain
Migraines and headaches may co-occur with neck or jaw pain or all by themselves. Physical Therapists are specialized clinicians that have the necessary training to determine the source of the problem and if the patient needs to be referred to another specialist, such as a physician if the source of the problem is out of the scope of the practice or to the ER if it is an emergency. This technique is called Differential Diagnosing and allows Physical Therapists to have Direct Access to patients (no need to see the MD first) in several states like California. Ask us how. Physical therapists perform thorough and exhaustive and on many occasions ongoing, assessments that render very important.
Since it can get complicated, let’s break it down:
NECK PAIN: whether neck pain developed over time, due to work, after a car accident, or without a specific reason, neck pain can be categorized into 4 groups:
Neck pain with mobility deficits
Neck pain with movement coordination impairments (including whiplash-associated disorder [WAD])
Neck pain with headaches (cervicogenic headache)
Neck pain with radiating pain (radicular)
Each of the categories follows algorithms based on symptoms, history, signs, and finding from the Physical Therapy evaluation. When any of these overlaps an ongoing assessment (monitoring and contact with the PT several days during the week) is usually necessary. When a patient presents with a problem that has lasted a significant amount of time, treatment can take longer and intensive therapy (several visits per week) is suggested and might be required. BreakingThrough utilizes a light and gentle approach with a combination of manual therapy, traction, neuromuscular reeducation, and strengthening to decrease pain and increase blood blow.
Jaw pain or TMD (TMJ) can be associated with any or all the previous symptoms. The jaw or TMJ utilizes many small muscle groups and a ball and socket joint system to function. Occasionally the jaw becomes dislodged or sprained causing a cascade of impairments, pain and functional declines (unable to chew). At BreakingThrough our Physical therapists are specialized in the assessment and treatment of the jaw and utilize the Neuromuscular Reeducation and manual therapy to improve the overall jaw movement.