TMJ and Headache: Utilizing Occipital and Greater Occipital Nerve Blocks to Relieve Headaches and Migraines

TMJ Disorders and Headaches are intimately related. They are both disorders of the Trigeminal Nervous system. The nature of TMJ disorders (TMD) are of a musculoskeletal nature and are actually a type of repetitive strain disorder. The position of the jaws affects every aspect of our being. Dr Shapira is opening a new office in Highland Park dedicated to treating TMJ Disorders, Sleep Apnea and chronic head and neck pain. Visit the website for information on improving your quality of life.

The NHLBI actually considers Sleep Apnea to be a TMJ disorder. The fact that keeping our airway open is essential to life it is understandable why TMJ Disorders can have a devastating effect on patients. Neuromuscular Dentistry has been shown to be extremely effective for many patients in eliminating or preventing headaches and migraines. The reason it is so effective is when the repetitive strain is removed the body heals naturally and the nociceptive input to the brain is decreased. There is actually a specific type of TMJ appliance that has FDA approval for migraine prevention.

The brain is basically a biological computer and it follows the basic rule of computers: Garbage in— Garbage out
Neuromuscular Dentistry eliminates noxious inputs to the Trigeminal System. These inputs get amplified in the brain by the reticular activating system and lead to almost 100% of headaches and migraines in full or in part. This includes tension headaches, sinus headaches and migraines.

There are two main sources of input to the brain involved in headaches; The musculoskeletal system and the autonomic nervous system. Patients with TMJ disorders frequently have forward head posture leading to myofascial pain arising in the neck, scalp and shoulder muscles.

Trigger point injections are extremely successful in eliminating trigger points in muscles. Long term headaches sometimes do not completely resolve with just trigger point deactivation There are three specific blocks that can offer tremendous relief. The Greater Occipital and the occipital nerve blocks are both injections.

Physicians doing occipital nerve block procedure involves injecting a steroid into the area around the occipital nerves located at the back of the head near the neck. Dr Shapira usually does his initial block in conjunction with trigger point injections and finds that steroid injection are usually not required. The skin in the area to be treated is cleaned with an beta dine and alcohol . The occipital or greater occipital nerve block takes only a few minutes to complete. The full effects of the procedure are usually felt in about two to three days. Long lasting relief from any headache related pain can vary from a few weeks to several months. The procedure can be repeated as needed but ideally the precipitating factors are addressed to avoid reoccurrence.

The SPG Block or Shenopalatine Ganglion Block is done intranasally with hollow cotton tipped applicators that act as a slow delivery system for anesthetic. The SPG block can be extremely effective for many types of headaches and migraines. The real beauty is tha patients can learn to self administer this painless easy block as a migraine preventive without utilizing dangerous migraine medications

Dr Shapira is working to set up a TMJ, Migraine and Headache support group in Highland Park to serve Lake County and Chicago