Headaches are a very nonspecific symptom that can be associated with many different conditions. This can make them very hard to treat, and it’s one of the reasons that TMJ headaches often go undiagnosed and poorly treated. Your doctor may think they know the cause and may be treating them accordingly, but because they’ve identified the wrong cause, the treatment is ineffective or only partly effective. This can include migraines.
If your current headache treatment is ineffective or is just dulling the pain, TMJ treatment in Wilmington, NC, might be able to help. Please call (910) 392-6060 or contact Kuzma Advanced Dentistry today for an appointment with our dentist.
Is TMJ Causing Your Headaches?
You can’t definitely diagnose whether you have TMJ-related headaches, but if you have other symptoms related to TMJ, you should suspect that TMJ is at least partly to blame for your headaches. Common symptoms associated with TMJ are jaw pain, neck pain, and back pain.
If you have these symptoms as well as headaches, TMJ may indeed be the problem. Here are the ways that TMJ could be causing your headaches.
TMJ and Tension Headaches
The most common type of headache, and the one most commonly associated with TMJ. In tension headaches, your muscles are pulling on your head, constricting it. This type can be caused by TMJ because muscle tension in your jaw muscles is being passed on to muscles in the head, which partner with those in the jaw.
We can demonstrate just how excessive is the force in your bite and how that translates into tension in your jaw muscles. The T-Scan digital bite sensor records just how much force each tooth is experiencing when you bite down. We can show you how imbalanced these forces are, and where your teeth are being subjected to the most force. Then we can use the electromyograph in the K-7 to measure how much tension is being carried in your jaw muscles, tension that can translate into tension headaches.
This type of headache is generally mild or moderate in intensity, but it can recur frequently, becoming very disruptive.
TMJ and Migraine Headaches
Because we’re not clear about what causes migraines, we’re still not entirely clear about the link between TMJ and migraines. One explanation is that TMJ causes a tension headache, which can serve as a migraine trigger. Another explanation is that TMJ can lead to irritation of the trigeminal nerve, which is where many migraines start.
However, we do know that people with TMJ often experience migraines and that migraine frequency and intensity typically diminishes after TMJ treatment. In rare cases, TMJ treatment may even completely eliminate migraines.
TMJ and Referred Pain Headaches
Have you ever wondered why left arm pain is a common symptom of heart attack? It’s not because a heart attack actually makes your arm hurt, it’s because your brain thinks heart pain is coming from the arm. This is known as referred pain, and it can also work when your brain thinks jaw pain is a headache. It sounds crazy, but this is one explanation for ice cream headaches—the pain is really in the upper part of your mouth, but your brain thinks it’s a headache.
Referred pain headaches are alleviated by treating and eliminating jaw pain.