I enjoy working on my patients to get them out of pain and back to the activities that they were previously unable to do. And yet, it’s those miracle cases that are particularly satisfying.
I recently had a patient whose mother brought her in so that I could work on her ankles. She is currently a gymnast in high school. As a result, her body had been subjected to significant stresses and injuries over the years. The ankle pain cleared up fairly quickly with adjustments. Then her mother asked me if I could do anything for her headaches. This young woman had suffered from severe daily headaches for years. She had seen a chiropractor previously for her headaches with some small benefit.
Knowing that headache pain very often comes from the upper neck area, I identified misaligned bones (subluxations) in that area. Using my adjusting instrument, the ProAdjuster/Ultralign, I was able to gently realign and mobilize those locked joints. Her headaches improved noticeably but did not go away completely. Slightly puzzled I began looking at other joints that could be affecting the muscles in that area. Checking her TMJ, which is a fancy acronym for her jaw joint, I could see some significant issues there. When she would slowly open her mouth I could see her jaw deviate significantly to one side. This clearly indicated that the jaw joint on that same side was not moving properly causing her jaw joint to pivot in that direction. She didn’t complain of any jaw issues, clicking or pain and yet there it was.
TMJ issues can also relate to headaches. If you put one finger on each temple of your head and clench your teeth, you can feel just how much the muscles in that area are involved with jaw movement.
As I had done with her neck and ankles, I adjusted the stuck side of her jaw to restore proper motion. The result: her headaches completely disappeared and have not returned.
In addition to the quality-of-life issues of chronic pain, her body was spared years and perhaps decades of repeatedly taking over-the-counter pain medication. I’m glad we caught this a relatively young age.
One lesson to take away from this is to realize that the area that hurts may not be the same area as the cause of the dysfunction.