Chronic headaches and migraines impact your quality of life and can be extremely difficult to manage. Explore how TMJ may be connected.
Chronic headaches can be life-altering — they impact our ability to perform basic functions in everyday life. From the inability to concentrate and focus at work to being unable to drive a car or run errands, they put a halt on life.
One of the hardest parts of managing chronic headaches is the inability to identify the root cause. Between addressing your nutrition and taking medication, treating chronic headaches can seem hopeless.
If you’ve been searching for a solution, it’s important to mention that one of the most misdiagnosed causes of chronic and tension headaches is TMJ!
At The Alaska Center For Oral + Facial Surgery, we provide solutions to your TMJ pain! Take a moment with us today and examine how your headaches may be attributed to TMJ.
TMJ and Headaches
Our temporomandibular joint plays a unique role in our facial anatomy and when it’s not properly functioning, it can cause discomfort, including chronic headaches. Below we’ll touch more on what TMJ is and how it can cause chronic headaches.
Let’s dive right in!
What is the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ)?
The temporomandibular joint is different than many of our joints because not only does it allow our jaws to open and close up and down on a hinge, but they also allow it to glide side to side for talking, chewing, and even yawning!
People begin to experience pain in the joint as a result of trauma to the jaw or the muscles in your head and neck. Additionally, grinding your teeth, arthritis, and stress can put you more at risk for developing TMJ.
Headaches are one of the most common symptoms of TMJ, yet they are commonly misdiagnosed! In a study from the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine, it found that headaches resulting from TMJ are often misdiagnosed. Instead of connecting TMJ with the headaches, they’re being attributed to something else, leaving the patient with no real pain relief or an effective treatment.
To make matters worse, the progression of chronic headaches can become a real health issue. Those suffering from chronic headaches are more likely to take medication daily, have poor sleep, experience depression, and have trouble managing their weight.
Finding TMJ Relief
Because medication masks symptoms and doesn’t address the root cause of your headaches, it’s important to try managing TMJ with lifestyle changes.
Work with a PT – A physical therapist (PT) may be able to prescribe specific jaw exercises to help strengthen the muscles, thus relieving some of the symptoms of TMJ.
Try mouth guards – Talk to your dentist about mouth guards if your TMJ is from grinding your teeth. How do you know you’re grinding your teeth? If you wake up in the morning with sore or tight jaw muscles this can indicate bruxism. Your teeth will also show tell-tale signs of wear and tear from grinding that your dentist will notice. Mouth guards thus prevent teeth grinding and clenching and may be able to help realign your jaw.
Massage your jaw – If your TMJ is stress-induced or if it hurts, try rubbing the area in circular motions and give yourself a nice massage.
De-stress! – This is always easier said than done! Take small steps in reducing your stress — learn to meditate, take walks throughout your day, get outside, try aromatherapy, etc.
TMJ Solutions at the Alaska Center For Oral + Facial Surgery
If lifestyle changes aren’t impacting your TMJ pain and discomfort, you may be a candidate for our TMJ treatments.
TMJ arthroscopy is an outpatient procedure that implements a small incision to place an arthroscope with a camera to explore inside your joint to better determine what’s causing your pain. At this time, the oral surgeon can perform a myriad of surgical procedures such as smoothing bone, reducing scar tissue, or repositioning the disc, alleviating TMJ pain and reducing your headaches!
If you’re managing chronic headaches it’s important to address the root cause, which in many cases, is TMJ-related. Instead of delaying treatment and living with your pain, find a solution to your TMJ.
Schedule a TMJ consult and find your answers today!