There are countless symptoms and dysfunctions associated with the TNS (trigeminal nervous system), and unfortunately women are more prone to them than men. As medical professionals, a thorough examination should be performed on each and every patient to assure that nothing is being overlooked.
The list associated with the CSNB (chief sensory nerve of the brain) is extensive and includes migraines, headaches (tension, sinus and morning), sinusitis, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, insomnia, chronic fatigue, anxiety, panic attacks, trigeminal neuralgia, irritable bowel syndrome, stabbing ‘ice pick’ pain in the eye, vision problems (auras, blurred vision, light sensitivity, and glaucoma), Sjögren’s syndrome, vertigo, Lupus, multiple sclerosis, adult scoliosis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.
Men also experience these problems, but the CSNB is four times more likely to be under attack in women (who are also more four times more likely to have TMJ dysfunction). Women fall victim to these symptoms and dysfunctions because they face physical abuse more than men and their ligaments are more elastic. The NIH and the Michigan Medical School research prove that women feel more pain than men.
Physicians, and dentists in particular, have a huge advantage in the treatment and prevention of TMJ disorders. Dentists are trained to use teeth as a vertical support system to avoid a lifetime of irritation to the CSNB.
When you have a malocclusion, meaning that your teeth and jaws are positioned incorrectly, your body becomes accustomed to functioning at an insufficient level. This, in turn, triggers TMJ dysfunction along with numerous concomitant symptoms and dysfunctions that linger throughout the majority of some people’s lives. Structures in the head and neck transmit continual impulses through the brain, eyes, ears, sinuses, and the trigeminal nucleus in the brainstem.
This causes the bones of the TMJ to rub against the auriculotemporal branch of the TNS, prompting referred pain and muscle spasms associated with the joint dislocation. Malocclusion also causes gum disease, tooth loss, enamel wear, and arthritis. Studies indicate that when the teeth and jaw joints do not align properly during the early stages of life, then the CSNB is over-stimulated, leading to pain, poor sleep, fatigue, and other symptoms.
Dentists that use a customized mandibular repositioning device are able to reestablish balance and support by correcting the malocclusion to a stable jaw joint position (and therefore stable occlusion). By doing so, joint space is created, thus lessening, and eventually eliminating, chronic lifelong pain and dysfunction. Physical therapy, physical medicine techniques and protocols such as trigger point or entrapment neuropathy injections can relieve the muscle pressure on the Trigeminal or Greater Occipital nerves.
For all the women out there suffering from chronic pain associated with these symptoms, the next time you are told by a physician that your pain is “all in your head”, ask them why they didn’t take ROM (range of motion) measurements or palpate the muscles of your head and neck. Dr. Stack always used to say “How do they know what’s wrong with the patient if they don’t touch the patient.”
Richard T. Seymour (2016) Why women? CRANIO®, 34:6, 353-355. DOI:10.1080/08869634.2016.1235536