Chronic Clenching

Illustration: Health Union, LLC

I have suffered from intensely painful, chronic tension headaches since shortly after I was diagnosed with RA 25 years ago. The jaw pain began approximately 15 years ago, I think. Lately, my jaw, head, and neck pain has been flaring up a lot, and I’m pretty sure that it’s from clenching and grinding my teeth due to several stressful things going on in my life now.

Here’s an article that was recently published for RheumatoidArthritis.net about my clenching problem: “Chronic Clencher”

Looking back, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my tension headaches began not long after I got RA. Living with chronic pain is very stressful, and I think my body tensing and tightening into knots is an unconscious reaction to dealing with pain. My head and muscle pain can become excruciating, and escalate to a point where nothing I can do can help it. I’ve gone to physical therapy several times over the years for my headaches, and I think it’s probably time to go again.

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