TMJ Headaches and Migraines

TMJDo you have frequent, painful headaches?  Have you talked to your doctor, tried a number of remedies, but found no relief?  Have you been diagnosed with a migraine, but found that techniques for minimizing attacks have had no effect on your symptoms?

If this describes you, you may be suffering from headaches as a result of TMD, temporomandibular joint disorder.  In this condition, misalignment of the temporomandibular joint leads to frequent and often very severe headache pain.

A Crucial Location

The temporomandibular joints are located on either side of your head, where the jaw meets the skull.  Also at this location is a complex configuration of nerves and muscles.  When the joint is out of order, it can create muscle tension that leads to painful muscle strain or pressure on the nerves to create frequent, persistent, and potentially severe pain.

Misdiagnosis and Mistreatment

TMJ headaches are commonly misdiagnosed as migraines, sinus headaches, or even imagined pain.  TMJ headaches are often, unfortunately, one of the last diagnoses. If your headaches start at either the forehead, temple, or the back of the head but often spread to the neck or shoulders, they are less likely to be migraines.  The classic migraine symptoms of aura and pre-headache hallucinations are only experienced by 20-30 % of sufferers, but if your headaches are severe, and are not accompanied by sensitivity to light and sound, they may not be migraines. The best sign that you are not suffering from migraines is when migraine treatment reduces the pain of an attack, but rarely prevents or reduces attacks.

TMJ headaches are also associated with other symptoms of TMJ, including clenched or grinding teeth, worn or damaged teeth, jaw pain, sleep apnea, and ringing in the ears.

Treatment of TMJ Headaches

Unlike most migraine treatments, treatment of TMJ headaches doesn’t involve taking many designer drugs whose effects on your body are only poorly understood.  Instead, the emphasis is on helping your body to relax and find a comfortable position so that muscles are not constantly strained nor nerves pinched.

TMJ headache treatment begins with the use of Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS), which relaxes the muscles of the head and neck to reduce pain. Neuromuscular dentist Dr. Robert Beebe will then seek to find the ideal position for your jaw.  You may wear a dental appliance to maintain your jaw in an ideal position, or it may be better to address common dental problems such as missing teeth that can promote TMJ.

If you experience frequent headaches and cannot find relief, schedule a TMJ headache consultation with Dr. Robert Beebe today.