Chronic headaches affect approximately 45 million Americans. Of those, about 28 million suffer from migraine, a debilitating condition that causes throbbing headaches, light and sound sensitivity, nausea, and vomiting. While each patient's symptoms may vary from episode to episode, the five phases of migraine headache include:
- Prodrome - the precursor to onset of a migraine headache, which may involve mood fluctuations, a change in the sense of taste or smell, or fatigue
- Aura - a visual disturbance prior to the headache that can include blind spots, loss of vision on one side, flashes of light, or odd, geometric images
- Headache - the throbbing, painful headache often presents on one side of the head and may last from 4 to 72 hours, during which the patient experiences nausea, photophobia, and phonophobia
- Termination - eventually, the headache ceases, typically after sleep
- Postdrome - prolonged effects of a migraine may include loss of appetite, fatigue, loss of concentration
Patients who experience migraines understand the intense pain associated with the condition and often make significant lifestyle sacrifices to be aware of and, when possible, avoid triggers such as:
- Foods - aged cheeses, salty or processed items, or additives like aspartame or monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- Skipping meals
- Beverages containing alcohol or caffeine
- Sensory overstimulation - strong lights, amplified noises, strong scents
- Physical activity or exertion
- Too much or too little sleep
- Weather or barometric pressure changes
- Hormonal changes
Limiting spontaneity, food choices, and activity due to constant fear of triggering a migraine can diminish a patient's quality of life. While a variety of options are now marketed to migraine sufferers, many of which involve pain medications or injections, medical professionals don't have much information about the causes of migraine headaches, other than genetics or environmental factors. There is, however, a connection between migraine headaches and the interaction between the brain and a main pain pathway in the body called the trigeminal nerve.
Dr. Charles Martin, founder of Richmond Smile Center, is a leading doctor of dental surgery, author, and speaker on advanced oral health care concerns. For more than 30 years, Dr. Martin has been providing innovative treatments and the latest technologies in the areas of cosmetic, family, emergency, mature adult, and reconstructive dentistry, as well as treatment for medical conditions such as TMJ, gum disease, sleep apnea, and chronic migraines and headaches.
Dr. Martin understands that many patients, while desperate for relief from migraine symptoms, may be reluctant to engage in a course of treatment that relies heavily on pain medications. As a board-certified and experienced physician, he knows the complex connections between the nerves, bones, joints, and muscles of the face and mouth and understands how they relate to headaches.
The trigeminal cervical ganglion, the nerve associated with chronic headaches and migraines, is same nerve connected to the jaws, chewing muscles, and teeth. Using advanced diagnostic techniques, Dr. Martin is able to analyze and measure the level of optimal function of a patient's bite (how the teeth fit together), range of motion in the neck, and muscle activity. For many patients, balancing the muscles, addressing soreness, and aligning the bite have resulted in welcome relief from migraines and headaches. Treatment may involve ultrasound, cold laser therapy, massage, or TruDenta needle-free, drug-free, and pain-free treatment for jaw or bite-related pain.
For more information about migraine headache relief without surgery or pain medications, call the Richmond Smile Center today at 804-417-7203. Richmond Smile Center is located at 11201 Huguenot Road in Richmond, VA.
Last Updated - August 2015
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