One of the recently developed promising treatments for migraines is a variation on the brow lift–or forehead lift–that decompresses the muscles that may put pressure on parts of the trigeminal nerve. This procedure may help some people get a degree of permanent migraine relief, but it also shows why TMJ treatment can also help many people get migraine relief.
The Theory, Practice, and Promise of Brow Lift for Migraines
Technically, the anti-migraine surgery is not actually a brow lift. It’s a surgical procedure specifically intended to help people relieve migraines. The procedure was discovered by a plastic surgeon who noticed that many of his brow lift patients were also getting migraine relief. He noticed that the same repeated muscle action that was responsible for the crinkles in the forehead were also putting pressure on peripheral branches of the trigeminal nerve, which is known to have a role in migraines.
The surgeon then worked to refine the procedure, which he described as “decompression” of branches of the trigeminal nerve. After having done several of the procedures, he found they could actually be very useful for migraine sufferers. In 2009, he published the results of a randomized study in which 75 migraine sufferers were assigned to receive either decompression surgery or a sham surgery. The actual migraine surgery was facing a serious placebo effect, but still came out on top. About 83% of surgical subjects saw at least a 50% reduction in migraines one year after surgery, compared to about 57% of the placebo group. However, 57% of migraine surgery patients saw a complete elimination of migraines, compared to only 4% of placebo patients.
What This Means for TMJ Treatment
The promise of brow lift-style migraine surgeries helps us understand how and why TMJ treatment works so effectively for migraine in some people. Muscle tension in the jaw can also put pressure on branches of the trigeminal nerve. For example, the auriculotemporal nerve, one of the peripheral trigger points for migraines, has two trigger points within an inch to the front and above the ear canal, remarkably close to the the jaw joint and jaw muscles. If relieving pressure on the trigeminal nerve can help reduce migraines, it’s likely that helping muscles relax with TMJ treatment can also lead to successful decompression and migraine relief.
This is what we’ve seen in our practice. If you want to learn how TMJ treatment might be able to help your migraines, please call (509) 532-1111 for an appointment with one of our dentists today.