All That I Have Written Is Straw. . .

Meanderings of a Catholic Devout

Migraine relief underway

with 4 comments

I wanted to post a brief update to my previous blog titled “Since I woke up with a migraine this morning” (March 15, 2011). Apparently, it’s a very popular post on my site, so it seems only appropriate to offer up to my interweb audience the main culprit of my migraines (and no, it’s not all serotonin’s fault).

The cause of my migraines is ultimately the fault of my tonsils. I have these humongous tonsils in the back of my throat from which I am still harboring a little resentment towards my father for not allowing me to have them removed when I was both a child and frequent sufferer of tonsilitis and strep infections. My ENT doctor took one look and said, “Yep, those have to come out.”

How did I link large tonsils to migraines? Because of an annoying clicking sound in my jaw.

Flash back to a year and a half ago. I noticed that my right jaw began to click. I thought it was a fluke since it happened only once in a blue moon and perhaps I was just eating or talking too much.  But it was enough to concern me when I went to my next dental visit, so I mentioned it to him at the conclusion of my cleaning. He poked around, felt my jaw, and said, “You probably have TMJ [temporomandibular joint] pain, but I wouldn’t worry about it too much unless it starts occurring more frequently.”

Six months later, I’m in his chair again and I mentioned that the clicking was not only much more frequent, but it was occurring every time I ate particularly tender foods, such as nuts, chewing gum, beef, popcorn. . . any kind of food that required me to excessively chew. He sent me to a specialty dentist who focuses solely on facial pain and a week later, I’m getting a CT scan and x-rays of my face taken.

I enjoy the new dentist very much because he just finished his masters in religious studies and we sat in his office chit-chatting about God for a good 10 minutes before my exam even started once he learned of my theological studies. So that made him seemingly much more candid with me during the exam and he took time to explain everything, even the root of medical terminology, since he had taken note that I like to learn. I digress.  The cause of the clicking in my jaws, he pointed out on the x-ray, is because my temporomandibular joint has wear and tear and the “lubricant” between joints is almost gone; it will replenish itself if I treat it (by wearing a splint, aka, a sort of mouth guard). But the cause of why the wear and tear on the joint is because I clench my teeth together, most likely at night while I sleep (and it must be so, because I have been paying close attention to my clenching habits and I’m not finding I do much when I’m awake.)

The cause of my nightly teeth clenching is because I have these two “bumps” in my throat that are narrowing my airway. (His words were something along the lines of, “You have one of the narrowest airways I’ve ever seen.”) What are the “bumps”?  My tonsils.  Thus, at night, I clench my teeth to push my lingual tonsil forward to create more room in my airway.  The tension from the clenching is wearing away the lubricant in my jaw, causing clicking and dull pain, and putting pressure on my temples.  The constant pressure on my temples is triggering migraines. The good news is that with splint therapy, I can rehabilitate my temporomandibular disorder (TMD) and probably drastically reduce the occurrence of migraines. Bad news is that I will have to get a tonsillectomy.

I was a little skeptical, at first, because, after all, I wasn’t here with the intention of resolving migraines, but rather to cease the clicking and pain in my jaw.  I have to take care of the jaw issues, so I enlisted in the year-long therapy course to correct the TMD.  Until my splint arrives, however, the doctor prescribed me a muscle relaxant to use at night when I sleep in hopes that it will relax my clenching and an appointment with an Ear, Nose & Throat doctor for a second opinion on the tonsillectomy recommendation.

I will receive the splint next week and I am stressed out over concerns in the healing process of a tonsillectomy. My boyfriend just had a confirmed case of strep throat and he doesn’t have tonsils.  That was miserable seeing what he had to go through and my pain and recovery from the tonsillectomy will last three times longer proposedly. I assure you that when that happens and I am home, losing sleep in recovery, this blog will record the drama.  You might even want to unsubscribe for the month of November.  Again, I digress…

For the last four weeks, I’ve been on the muscle relaxants and anti-imflammatory drugs for my jaw. And it’s been working! I am not waking up with migraines! Every once in a while, though, I’ll still get a migraine. But I can only recall two instances during this time when I’m had them and had to medicate them with my trusty crutch Excedrin® Migraine®. That’s over an 80% decrease in migraine occurrences (since I previously averaged a morning migraine two to three mornings a week). Unfortunately, the pain my jaw is getting worse, as I’ve noticed more throbbing pain during daytime hours.

All of this just reminds me that God works in mysterious ways and that suffering is a good thing. The pain I suffered in my jaw is leading to a therapy that will relieve the migraines I have suffered for years. I’m getting two for the price of one! Let’s just see if I remember this wisdom when I can’t swallow, I’m drooling, and my throat is feeling full of razor blades after my tonsillectomy.


Written by Written Straw

September 22, 2011 at 9:03 am

4 Responses

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  1. Muscle tension can cause headaches and by relaxing muscles, especially in the neck, it is possible to relieve migraine headaches. Once the technique is learned there is no longer any need for the biofeedback equipment. The patient with migraine headaches can now produce the desired effect any time they wish. Sometimes too much salt can cause headaches. And by simply lessening the salt intake headaches can sometimes be prevented. Some migraine headaches are caused by food sensitivities. Certain foods can cause migraines and eliminating these foods can prevent migraine pain. Some common foods that can trigger migraine headaches are cheese, alcohol, monosodium glutamate (a food additive), nuts, beans, caffeine, chocolate, onions and others.;

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    Marx Kristianson

    February 4, 2013 at 2:07 am

  2. Can you tell me if your headaches are gone? Where were your headaches? Temples, forehead, etc.? I presume you are off of the muscle relaxers. The reason I am asking is that my son has had a headache 24/7 for 9 months and we are trying to solve this. thanks.


    November 30, 2016 at 8:54 pm

    • No muscle relaxers. I still seldom get migraines…maybe 3-4 times/year and usually accompanied by other illness. My former migraines were mostly in my temples (triggered by clenched teeth at night) but could often be bad that the pain spread to what felt like the crown of my head. Best of luck to your research. I’ll keep your son in my prayers.

      Written Straw

      November 30, 2016 at 9:13 pm

      • Thank you. Did you find the therapy or the removal of your tonsils was best at relieving your headaches?


        November 30, 2016 at 9:52 pm

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