One of the most common and persistent symptoms of TMJ is chronic headaches. It’s also one of the problems most likely to get misdiagnosed, because headaches can be associated with so many different conditions. Many people are diagnosed only with headaches and receive headache treatment that is ineffective because it doesn’t address the chief cause of headaches–TMJ. Whether you have chronic tension headaches or migraine, the true cause of your pain may be TMJ.
If your current headache treatment isn’t working or you suspect that TMJ may be to blame for your headaches, please call (314) 375-5353 (Downtown St. Louis) or (314) 678-7876 (Clayton) today for an appointment with St. Louis TMJ dentist Dr. Chris Hill at our office in downtown or Clayton.
Is TMJ to Blame for Your Headaches?
Many different things can cause headaches. So how do you know if TMJ is to blame for your headaches? The only way to know for sure is to get a TMJ diagnosis. But there are some clues you might look for, such as:
- Presence of other TMJ symptoms
- Headaches started after jaw injury
- Headaches associated with jaw activity
- Traditional headache treatment ineffective
TMJ has many symptoms. Few people with TMJ have only one symptom. Consider whether you have symptoms in addition to your headaches. It’s likely these have been going on for a while, you just didn’t notice them or consider them significant.
There are many potential causes of TMJ. One is a jaw injury, and if you started getting headaches after jaw injury, your headaches may be related to TMJ. This becomes tricky when the jaw injury is a whiplash injury, in which the jaw wasn’t struck by a blow. This can lead to TMJ, but it may also cause brain damage that could be responsible for injury. Make sure you get evaluated by a doctor to rule out that possibility.
A clear sign that TMJ could be causing your headaches is that your headaches tend to flare up after intense jaw activity, such as eating tough foods, speaking a lot or loudly, or bruxism.
And, of course, there’s the process of elimination. If you’ve tried treatments for other causes of headaches, but they haven’t worked, then it’s likely TMJ is the cause of your headaches.
TMJ and Tension Headaches
Tension headaches are the most common type of headaches. They’re also the most common type of headache caused by TMJ. Basically, the muscles in your head and neck all work together, including the jaw muscles. When jaw muscles work too hard, they pass that stress on to other muscles. This can turn jaw pain and other facial pain into headaches.
TMJ and Migraines
Migraines are somewhat mysterious, but we have learned many things about them. One thing we know is that the trigeminal nerve serves as a trigger point for migraines. The trigeminal nerve is also the nerve that controls signals to and from the jaw muscles. Some branches of the trigeminal nerve also weave under and around these jaw muscles. When jaw muscles are overactive, they might overstimulate the trigeminal nerve or put pressure on the trigeminal nerve, triggering a migraine.
Some migraines are cured by cutting away nerve branches that get under pressure or using BOTOX injections to relax the muscles. TMJ treatment can relax the muscles without surgery and without injections.
TMJ and Sinus Headaches
True sinus headaches are caused by infection or clogging of the sinuses. But sinus headaches are often misdiagnosed. Tension headaches, migraines, and toothaches are often mistaken for sinus headaches.
Referred Pain Headaches
Referred pain is a strange phenomenon in which pain from one part of the body is interpreted as coming from another part. You feel pain in your head, but it’s really coming from your teeth, jaw, or elsewhere.
This may seem strange, but it’s actually very common. It’s why jaw pain is considered a warning sign of a heart attack, for example.
Let Us Relieve Your Headaches
If you’re unhappy with your ongoing headaches and your doctor can’t help, we’d love to see you. TMJ treatment helps many people find relief from pain like headaches when nothing else seems to work.
For help with headaches and migraines in St. Louis, please call (314) 375-5353 (Downtown St. Louis) or (314) 678-7876 (Clayton) today for an appointment with TMJ dentist Dr. Chris Hill at our downtown or Clayton office.