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Stacy quietly cried as she explained the toll chronic headache, neck and shoulder pain has had on her life. "It took sheer will power to get through the day," she emotionally recalled, tears streaming down her face. "You try to prepare yourself mentally for the next day because you know the week isn't over yet. You spend your whole day off trying to rest and recover and then it's back to work again."
Stacy is only one of an estimated 14 million people who have chronic daily headaches, meaning that they suffer from the condition at least 15 days a month, according to the Migraine Research Center. Every 10 seconds, someone in the United States is treated in the Emergency Room for migraine or headache.
"Migraines, chronic headaches, tension headaches, headaches caused by medicine-overuse, jaw and facial pain are serious, incredibly debilitating conditions that cost our nation over 113 million lost work days each year," says Dr. Dean Schweitzer, DDS, clinical director of Valencia Headache Care. "But more crushing than the financial cost is the emotional and physical drain on patients," explains the specialist. "Relationships crack under the strain. Quality of life is remarkably limited. Individuals suffering from these issues try to put on a brave face to the world. But underneath that brave face these patients are hurting and, with every breath, they wish things could be different."
"There are only
about 400 doctors IN THE NATION
who have the technology and education to CHANGE LIVES
with this treatment, which has proven successful
with tens of thousands of patients across
Dr. Dean Schweitzer
That's where Dr. Schweitzer's work at Valencia Headache Care comes in. "I have always been driven to alleviate pain in others - and I know first hand how excruciating migraines and headaches can be, as I used to have them regularly," says the well-respected dentist, who has practiced pediatric dentistry in the SCV since 1980.
"At first it seems unusual to seek treatment for headaches from a dentist," reflects Dr. Schweitzer, who's affectionately referred to as "Dr. Dean" by his patients. "That is, until you realize that a remarkable proportion of those who suffer from this kind of pain have an imbalance in their bite, even though they
cannot feel the imbalance themselves. This imbalance forces the facial, jaw and neck muscles out of balance, which then causes headache pain."
To understand why this imbalance can cause headache pain imagine this . . . You have a pebble in the bottom of your shoe. Every time you step down, it hurts. Your brain, trying to protect you, tells your leg muscles to step differently to avoid the pain until you have a chance to take off your shoe and remove the pebble. Once the pebble is out, everything is fine. But what would happen if you could never remove the pebble? You would develop a permanent limp and your leg and back muscles would become strained, stressed and painful.
The same thing happens when your bite is only micro-millimeters out of balance. At the first point of contact, each time you bite down, your brain tells your facial muscles to try and find a more balanced spot to bite down upon - but they can't, because there isn't one. The result: your facial muscles are constantly strained, stressed and overcompensating, trying to find a balanced bite. The result is headache pain.
The solution is to take the "pebble out of your shoe" by making small, imperceptible adjustments to the bite in combination with rehabilitating the facial and neck muscles through ultrasonic, deep tissue, micro-current and cold laser therapies. "We use state-of-the-art diagnostic technology to determine exactly where the bite imbalances are located and each adjustment is quick and simple. We're the only practice in Santa Clarita with T-Scan technology to measure micro imbalances in the bite," says the doctor.
"When your bite is balanced and your muscles are back in alignment, your pain dissipates. Our patients cite noticeable improvement beginning at about the fourth week of their 12- week program. It's such a fulfilling experience for me, my staff and our patients. These folks have tried everything - chiropractic, medication, diet changes, neurology - but they haven't gotten to the root of the problem. Other treatments were bandaids and once patients experience a cure that can last a lifetime, they're over the moon. It's very satisfying work."
"I started noticing a real difference around visit Four or Five," says Stacy excitedly. "About that time, I could identify where the pain was coming from and address it appropriately. I already have pain-free days - that's such a huge improvement," says the Valencia Headache Care patient. "The treatments, which take about 90 minutes a week for 12 weeks, are incredibly relaxing and comfortable," says the doctor. "It's like a spa! And we create a custom home plan so that every patient can experience relief that can change their lives forever."
Valencia Headache Care offers free 15-minute consultations and Care Credit payment options. 287-9667