One of the most predominant gaps in migraine treatment is that there is no medical test or imaging study to diagnose them. This complicates treatment for doctors as there’s often no obvious root cause for the attacks. However, the most common migraine treatments are centered around pain management rather than alleviating conditions that trigger the pain in the first place. Treating migraines through jaw / bite realignment does just that and has gifted hundreds of patients a new lease on life.
The Current State of Diagnosis
There are currently no tests available to reliably diagnose a migraine. Doctors make a determination, based on physical examinations and a medical history. Things such as migraine triggers, symptoms, and family history are the most reliable tools available for diagnosis, much of which is evidence supplied by the patient which is subjective and not necessarily 100 percent accurate. Medical tests such as CT scans, MRI and blood tests are to “rule out” other causes for the migraines. Migraine diagnosis is a “diagnosis of exclusion”.
The Physiologic Neuromuscular Dentistry Approach
One of the most promising treatment options for chronic migraines targets jaw alignment. Where the teeth fit together is called “bite” or “occlusion”. If it does not coincide with where the jaw aligns optimally, where the jaw muscles are at optimal length and the jaw joints including discs are optimally aligned, it causes strain of the TMJ, jaw muscles and more importantly upper part of the neck. This is often a result of conditions such as jaw underdevelopment which also constricts the room for tongue function, crowds the airway at the throat and necessitates forward neck posture that temporarily improves airway when awake but strains the neck.
The additional strain and pressure at these specific locations contributes to several other disorders as well and by easing this tension with advanced neuromuscular dental treatment including functional orthodontics, most patients can experience real relief without depending on pain-relievers.
Correcting Jaw / Bite Relation
When poor jaw / bite relation is in fact the issue perpetuating a patient’s migraines, how can the correct alignment be diagnosed? One option is to measure the electrical activity of the chewing muscles – surface Electromyography (sEMG). This process is strikingly similar to measuring the electrical activity of the heart through EKG. By measuring the electrical activity in the chewing and neck muscles, doctors can diagnose the proper jaw / bite relation and are able to offer treatment options to achieve it.
The typical treatment for migraines is directed at preventing attacks and alleviating them when they do occur.
Preventive medications must be taken every day, whether there is a headache present or not. Those preventive strategies consist of:
- Eliminating the controllable triggers like chocolate or red wine
- Improving the person’s physical, mental and emotional health by exercising, biofeedback, relaxation techniques, rest and stress reduction
- Taking medications (e.g. beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, antidepressants, aspirin and serotonin agents, monthly CGRP blocker injections) even though all medications have side effects.
These options, however, are not helpful once an attack strikes. Once the migraine has set in, management strategies devolve into non-drug and drug-based methods which include:
- Lying in a dark quiet room with a cold compress or rag on the forehead
- Massage or acupuncture
- Using visualization techniques to direct blood flow away from the head putting pressure on the temples
- Medications such as aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen, diflunisal, ketorolac, rizatriptan, sumatriptan, and ergotamine tartrate.
Get to the Root of Migraines
Patients interested in solving a major root cause of their migraines once and for all while also avoiding this long list of medications can find a solution in physiological neuromuscular dental treatments offered by Dr. Raman. To schedule your consultation and see if this treatment course is right for you, call our office at (816) 436-4422.