Headaches are a common symptom of TMD, but is a temporomandibular joint disorder the cause of your pain? There are many reasons for headaches, so even if you have TMD, your headaches may not necessarily be TMD headaches. Discover how headaches and TMJ disorders are connected, as well as the symptoms that suggest TMD could be the cause.
Why TMD Causes Headaches
There is always a root cause for every headache. Because of the proximity of the jaw to the head, it’s easy for that pain to travel upward. There are also a number of nerves in the face that run right alongside the TMJ. This means a little bit of TMJ pain can create a big TMJ headache.
The two main causes for TMJ headaches are detailed below:
Much of the time it’s the tension in the jaw that leads to a headache. Bruxism, or clenching and grinding of the teeth, is the reason why many people have TMD. This movement fatigues the muscles and joints, leading to pain. This is very similar to the way over-exercising any other muscle can make it sore. The pain radiates out from the jaw up to the temples, and can range from mild and dull to sharp and throbbing. Constant tension can also cause cramping in the jaw muscles that creates migraine-like headaches.
Malocclusion is another reason why TMD causes headaches. When your bite is out of alignment it puts strain on your jaw because it too will be out of alignment. Once the muscles get fatigued trying to keep the jaw in place, a headache will ensue. Poor posture can also cause similar symptoms to occur in the jaw.
Signs That Your Headaches Are Caused by the TMJ
Research has shown that TMJ disorders can be the cause of chronic or frequent headaches. This is because the pain and fatigue in the jaw is constant if TMD is left untreated.
If you are experiencing other symptoms along with the headaches, there’s an increased chance that TMD is to blame. Other symptoms include:
- Pain in the jaw
- Pain in cheek muscles
- Shoulder aches
- Popping or clicking sound when opening your jaw
- Stiffness in the jaw
- Jaw shifts when the mouth is opened wide
- Limited mobility
- Ringing or hissing in the ear
- Difficulty swallowing
- Stiffness in neck muscles
- Clogged ear
- Poor posture
Where you feel the pain is a good indicator of whether or not the TMJ is causing the headache. If you feel migraine, tension or sinus-like headaches in the following areas, it’s probably triggered by pain in the jaw:
- Shooting up the back of the head
- Back of the neck
- Behind the eyes
Medication will only mask the pain that’s being caused by the TMJ headaches. Our dentists have experience diagnosing and treating TMJ disorders in patients of all ages. We offer holistic approaches that take all treatment options into consideration. Schedule an appointment with MedCenter TMJ for a TMD headache treatment that doesn’t just mask the symptoms.