Straight Teeth Talk: Specially trained dentists can treat head, neck pain
By Mac Lee
March 5, 2013 at midnight
Updated March 4, 2013 at 9:05 p.m.
A few articles back, I wrote about muscle trigger points around the head and neck and how painful and confusing they are. We saw several patients this week who were in severe pain because of these problems. The purpose of this article is to show how badly the pain hinders one's daily activity.
Examples of severe pain because of muscles
One person's pain was so severe she was holding her left arm up around her neck in order to keep her head cradled to fight the pain. She could not open her hands, and her eyes were almost squeezed shut. She kept both clenched and shut.
Another patient hurt so much that she could hardly open her mouth and had to flatten out a hamburger just to get it in her mouth. This pain and limited range of movement had been this way for 19 days. She, too, kept her hands clinched and had severe pain on the left side of her neck.
Trigger point temporomandibular disorders pain can strike the young also. One 15-year-old patient who had a history of MRIs, CAT scans, etc., only to find nothing, had to quit her beloved baseball team because she was in constant, horrible pain all the time. Once she and her mom realized her pain was a muscle problem and not a life-and-death problem after the first therapy session, the healing began.
These severe pain patients usually have two deep-seated questions they can't get answered. They ask, "Do I have something terminal? Am I going to die, and/or do I have to live with this pain forever?" If you, the reader, have this problem, you can understand.
All three patients were treated the same way. The goal was to get rid of most of the pain. This was achieved by deep muscle massage. Olympic trials athlete and massage therapist Chris Thomas was able to work out most of the trigger points.
To maintain muscle balance, some people require an oral orthotic, much like a shoe insert, to balance the feet. This orthotic is different than a regular mouth guard that simply keeps the teeth apart.
Muscle trigger point pain is confused with: • Sinus pain
• Tension headache
• Daily headaches
• Shoulder and back pain
• Neck tightness
Self diagnosis of trigger point pain
This is really quite easy to do. If you have pain in your neck and/or head, say in the temple area, reach up and touch it and begin to put pressure on that area. If it feels like a knot and hurts, it could be a trigger point. If it hurts and radiates pain into other areas of head, neck or shoulder, more than likely it is a trigger point, and it is what is causing your pain.
It is important that you see a dentist who is specially trained in treating head and neck aches and understands this complex issue.
Dr. Mac Lee practices in Edna. He is an international speaker to dentists and is an adviser to Dr. Mehmet Oz. To learn more, visit drmaclee.com or call 361-782-7191.