Do you experience migraines, headaches or face pain? Perhaps you've received a diagnosis called "trigeminal neuralgia" or "tic doulourex." There is a direct "cause and effect" link between jaw problems, face pain, and headaches. Jaw problems exacerbate and can even cause headache and/or face pain through the trigeminal vascular complex, which consists of the trigeminal nerve system and related blood vessels.
The trigeminal nerve is the largest cranial nerve, and is one of the major pain signaling entities of the brain. It has three branches, or pathways-the ophthalmic nerve, the maxillary nerve, and the mandibular nerve. The main function of the trigeminal nerve is to transmit feelings of pain from your mouth, sinuses, eyes, teeth, head, face, ears, and neck to your central nervous system. In addition, it also conducts the motor functions of chewing, biting, and swallowing. Lastly, it controls arterial blood flow inside the brain.
These three nerve branches, or pathways, join into a singular, large nerve root called the trigeminal ganglion, which is physically located next to the temporomandibular joint. It is this nerve root that enters the brain stem, and transmits pain impulses.
Unless you have true nerve damage, trigger points are most likely the cause of your pain. Trigger points in the muscles entrap nerves and blood vessels, causing pain. This pain can be felt in a range of intensity levels, from mild to severe. Pain in any of the branches or pathways can cause migraines and other types of headaches, as well as pain in the face, mouth, sinuses, eyes, teeth, head, face, ears, and neck. Once trigger points are treated and released, the muscles relax to a "normal" state and release any entrapment of nerves and blood vessels, providing immediate relief.