Headaches can often be a symptom of sleep apnea and/or TMD. At TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre of North Texas, we perform a comprehensive evaluation to determine the cause of the patient’s headaches and then further evaluate the patient to confirm the presence of a sleep disorder and/or TMD.
The American Headache Society classifies headaches into three main groups:
Tension Headache pain usually takes place in the front and/or base of the head and can radiate from the forehead to the ears to the jaw to the base of the skull to the neck and upper back.
There is a strong association between Tension Headaches and jaw problems: patients who clench or grind their teeth or experience jaw clicking/popping and other jaw complications often experience Tension Headaches. It is common for patients to be unaware of the jaw dysfunction and only notice the headaches.
Another source of Tension Headaches is head posture which can be altered by the presence of a jaw issue, airway issue, or a combination of the two. Normal Head Posture, which does not strain the neck or jaw, is where (looking at the profile) the center of the ear is in line with the middle of the shoulder. Because of poor anatomy, TMD, obstructed airways, and/or sleep disordered breathing, a patient could experience Forward Head Posture, where the head moves forward, compensating for other problems, so that the ear is actually in line with the front of the shoulder. This puts extreme strain on the neck; for every inch forward, the neck must support an extra 10lbs. Forward Head Position can not only cause Tension Headaches and the symptoms associated with them, but also lower back pain and pain and/or numbness from the head down to the fingers. There is evidence to support the fact that chronic Tension Headaches and chronic neck tension can lead to migraines. At your initial exam, our expertly trained assistants will take photos which help Dr. Krish examine your neck and shoulder postures.
Sleep Disordered Breathing is another possible cause of headaches. Obstructive Sleep Apnea causes a hypoxia, a decrease in the level of oxygen, which eventually changes the vasculature inside the brain causing headaches.
Sinus headaches, usually caused by infection or allergies, can also occur because of referral pain, pain caused by an area different from where the pain is felt. Patients can often experience pain in the sinuses that is actually referred from the neck, jaw, or back. At TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre, we take 3D CT Scans of the entire head so we are able to look into the jaw joints, sinuses, and airways, providing the necessary information for diagnosis.
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