In-Depth Understanding of TMJ Headaches

The temporomandibular joint is the hinge that connects your jaw to the skull. It allows you to do some things such as laugh, chew, talk, and enable your jaw to move side to side or up and down.

The hinge undergoes many sliding motions making it one of the most complex joints and can cause many symptoms, including headaches if anything goes amiss. These are commonly known as temporomandibular disorders.

Causes of TMJ Headaches

Although the causes have not been identified, it is believed that teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, can cause these headaches. TMJ pain has been reported to affect one in ten people. The TMJ combines the sliding movements with hinge actions.  The bones that link these jaws are covered with cartilage separated by a shock absorber that keeps its movement smooth. The pain and headache can be caused if:

  • the disk moves out of its alignment, or if it erodes
  • the cartilage in the joint is damaged by arthritis
  • The jaw or joint is damaged by a blow or any impact on it

Some risk factors may increase the risk of you getting TMJ disorders or headaches, and they include:

  • Jaw injury
  • Long term clenching or grinding of the teeth
  • Some connective tissue diseases may cause problems affecting the functioning of the temporomandibular joint.
  • Some types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, may affect the movement of the jaw.
  • Poor posture
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Orthodontic braces

The following are the symptoms of TMJ that come with the headache. They include

  • Tenderness or pain in the jaw
  • Pain in both or one of your temporomandibular joints
  • Aching pain in your face
  • Your joint may lock, making it difficult to open or close it
  • Pain while chewing or difficulty in chewing
  • Pain in and around your eye.
  • Tight, sore, or stiff jaw muscles
  • Blurred vision
  • Pain that feels like a toothache
  • Vertigo or dizziness
  • Shoulder pain

Treatment of TMJ Headaches

Though no treatment has been proven safe and reliable, something can be done to prevent and treat the TMJ disorder and headache. It includes:

  • Lifestyle Changes

Changing some behaviors involving your jaw can be helpful. This includes:

  • Avoiding chewy or hard foods
  • Reducing or minimizing the stress that causes problems like clenching or grinding
  • Avoiding movement of jaws that can happen because of gum chewing or wide yawning
  • Some sedative essential oils can help you relieve pain. They include chamomile, lavender, clary sage, and sweet marjoram

You can also use over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication that can help you reduce the pain and treat the headaches. An ice pack on your jaw can also help you reduce the pain. Exercising your jaw can also help you relax your muscles and relieve the temporomandibular disorder symptoms

  • Doctor Prescribed Treatments

If the lifestyle changes or the over-the-counter medications do not help alleviate your headache, you should visit your doctor. They will prescribe you with a stronger medication. Your dentist may provide you with a stabilization splint or bite guard if you are experiencing bruxism. The splints have a setback, and they will only take care of the grinding problem, it will not take care of the pain.

These treatments are only temporary; they have not been proven as permanent solutions to TMJ disorder.  You can also speak to a doctor in a pain clinic to figure out your pain’s cause and treatment.

A medical doctor may also use Botox to relieve the muscles though it is not an FDA-approved treatment for treating TMJ. A physical therapist can also help you relieve stress. They can also include jaw exercises and temporomandibular massage services to help you improve flexibility, strengthen muscles and your range of motion.

  • Surgical Treatment

The other option though not approved by the board, is surgery. You can undergo a permanent treatment like orthodontic work to change your bite or dental work to treat bruxism permanently.

However, none of the treatments has been proven, so you have to be cautious when considering a permanent treatment for TMJ disorder or headache.