Is it the front of the head, the back of the head, the side of the head, or the whole head?
This is important to know because each one of these can have a different cause.
Frontal headaches can be from eye strain or believe it or not something as simple as being dehydrated.
Headaches in the back of the head typically can start from problems in the neck.
Many people do not know, and surprisingly neither do many doctors, that headaches on the side of the head usually are caused by problems with the jaw. There are four muscles that attach from your jaw to the skull and if someone clenches their teeth at night or has a habit of grinding their teeth these muscles get overworked and can actually shift some of the bones or put pressure on the plates in your skull.
I have found the best way to determine if the jaw is the source of the problem is by doing muscle testing.
In the chiropractic world, we call this technique Applied Kinesiology.
Here’s how it works: we start by using a strong muscle, usually one in the leg while you are laying down on your back and have you hold it in the air. It should be able to maintain this position against a slight pressure exerted by the doctor. This is normal.
We can then have you touch your index finger in the jaw joint (also called the TMJ) and have you put your teeth together lightly. We then retest you. If the muscle stays strong that is a normal “negative” test. We can then have you bite down harder and repeat the testing.
This is when I find a lot of jaw problems. What will happen with a “positive” test is that the leg that was strong a minute ago will now test weak and give way under the pressure exerted by the doctor.
Also I need to add that the patient is touching both the left and right jaw joints at the same time while we do the initial tests. We can then have the patient remove one finger and just test one side at a time to see which TMJ is involved.
So let’s say the right TMJ tested as a source of trouble while biting down. We then have the patient take the index finger from the left hand and touch the masseter muscle while keeping the right index finger on the jaw joint. We ask the patient to bite down again and retest using the leg muscle as before. If the leg is now strong with this two finger contact it means the muscle you are touching is the problem.
We can apply a vibration treatment to this muscle and work out the knots that have built up in it. This will usually clear the muscle of toxins as well so it can work properly again. When we recheck the jaw as per our original protocol, everything should test strong and this is also a way to know the treatment was effective.
The other two muscles that affect your jaw and that can cause headaches are the medial and lateral pterygoid. We check these the same way previously described except we have the patient open their mouth and swing their lower jaw to one side at a time and muscle test.
The Temporalis muscle can be involved as well but the doctor who does Applied Kinesiology can tell the difference and know which muscle exactly is the one to treat.
Case in point from a real live patient at my office. She had been having terrible headaches for over twenty years and had been to many doctors for them including chiropractors! But no one ever bothered to check her jaw. They all wrongly assumed it was her neck or some other issue. When I did my initial evaluation of her I checked everything and I believed the issue was in her jaw muscles like I just described for you.
Long story short, within one week she was almost totally headache free because we had addressed the true cause of her suffering.
This is what chiropractic is all about; finding the true cause of someone’s health problem and correcting it instead of trying to cover it up with medication and pain killers.
Denver Chiropractor Robert Ebeling DC, PC of A-Just-A-Ble Chiropractic Center
1380 S Santa Fe Dr #103
Denver, CO 80223