The Muscle Connection is Key
In my upcoming book, Doctor, Why Does My Face Still Ache?,” we explore puzzling questions that do not have simple or anticipated answers:
• Why would a person experience a constant toothache when the tooth that hurts is completely fine?
• How does someone gradually lose the ability to open his or her mouth or talk when there hasn’t been a direct injury to the area, or medical disease diagnosed?
• Why does someone experience non-stop aches or pains in their face when a medical evaluation suggests that nothing is wrong?
Unfortunately in the search for answers, many practitioners tend to overlook the muscle connection when it comes to the cause of facial pain. But considering how much of the face is made up of muscles, it’s beneficial to know how muscles can be affected by factors such as emotional issues and the stress of life-challenges. In the book, I call this state a “Brain Under Siege.”
Facial Pain and Emotions
A brain is under siege when it is faced with many challenges, which may include but not limited to:
• Economic uncertainty
• Loss of control relating to illness, aging parents, work relationships, etc.
• Inability to express fear and anger
• Pressure to “Keep Up with the Joneses”
• Marital and or relationship turmoil
For patients experiencing one or more (or perhaps all) of these stressors, the toll it can take on jaw and neck muscles could directly cause facial pain. I realize that many people might want to reject this theory. Our culture is such that we often look for external or structural causes of facial pain. Even medical professionals are tempted to ignore these connections to muscle pain, perhaps because they’re uncomfortable posing sensitive questions to their patients. But this doesn’t mean that a connection doesn’t exist.
Of course there are many causes of facial pain, and in many cases traditional methods of relieving this pain works fine. But each patient needs to be evaluated individually, and all aspects of what causes facial pain need to be taken into account. Most facial muscle pain sufferers can be helped, and it often requires patient insight and participation so the proper treatment can be applied.
Though we often wish it were so, sometimes facial muscle pain can’t be solved by the patient simply walking into the office and saying, ‘Doctor, fix me.’
Dr. Donald Tanenbaum has been practicing in New York City and Long Island for over 20 years. He is uniquely qualified to diagnose and facial pain, bruxism, TMJ and TMD problems, Sleep Apnea, muscle pain disorders, nerve pain disorders, tension headaches, and snoring. Learn more about Dr. Tanenbaum here.