Jaw (TMJ) disorder might be the reason for your headache

Jaw joints are known as temporomandibular joint (TMJ). TMD refers to disorders that involve these joints and could be the cause of many different types of  pains in the jaw area as well as headaches. The headaches resulted from TMJ disorders usually do not respond well to generic tension treatment and have to be treated differently. The temporomandibular connects lower jaw to the skull and is very mobile joint which increases the rate of injuries.

This lower jaw has a round stature which is called condyles. The condyles slides between the joint sockets to ensure the optimum functionality of the jaw. Damage to this joint can be caused by normal wear and tear or by trauma such as whiplash associated with car accidents. Once this joint has been damaged, the pain can be quite disabling and will induce severe headaches that will constantly plague the patient. Some of the most prominent symptoms of TMD are mentioned below;

  • Tender jaws
  • Pain while chewing food
  • Pain while talking
  • Ear pain
  • Facial pain
  • Head aches
  • Neck pain
  • Clicking sounds while chewing
  • jaw locking in severe cases

Conditions related to TMJ disorders

TMJ disorders cause not only headaches but an array of other pain syndromes such as:

  • Trigeminal neuralgia
  • Speech disorders
  • Hearing disorders
  • Taste disorders
  • Migraines
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Balancing disorder
  • Fatigue syndrome
  • Facial pain
  • Cardiovascular diseases

Different headaches associated with TMJ disorder

There are many reasons for headaches; this is exactly why it is crucial that you undergo a comprehensive evaluation by a doctor in order to find out the root cause of your head aches. In order to help you gain more insight about the different types of headaches that are associated with TMJ are mentioned below.

  1. Tension type headache
  2. Migraine headache
  3. Analgesic rebound headaches
  4. Caffeine withdrawal headaches
  5. Sinus headaches
  6. Cluster headaches
  7. Temporal arteritis
  8. Cervicogenic headaches

How is TMJ disorders are treated?

If TMD is the cause of your headaches or you are suffering form other symptoms related to a dysfunctional TMJ, a visit to your physiotherapist and dentist’s office should be the first consideration for medical care. A dentist can assess the need for a corrective device such as a night guard among other treatments that one might need. The role of a physiotherapist is to treat pain and move the joint to restore its normal movement. A massage therapist can release the trigger points and assist in managing headaches. Ultimately, if there is ongoing chronic pain, a TMJ specialist or a pain specialist and surgeon could provide more specialized treatments such as injections and operations. Once the entire team is on board they will evaluate your current and previous medical history to assess which mode of treatment will provide an expedited recovery.

The most intrusive method of treating TMJ includes surgery. Here the surgeon will inject an anesthetic in the joint and will irrigate the joint. Although surgery will provide the patient with immediate relief from their pain, it is not always the first option the doctors prescribe.

Besides surgery you can also treat TMJ using targeted medicine such as muscle relaxants, Botox and other medication. Only your doctor can prescribe the most effective and safe medicine after he or she takes your medical history into consideration.

Physiotherapy and massage therapy are the least aggressive treatments for treating pain conditions related to TMJ disorders. Although the recovery may be slower but the combination of physiotherapy and massage with the interventions by dentist or surgeon provides a longer lasting and functional recovery. Your physiotherapist will use manual therapy to treat TM joints and increase the mobility of these joints and neck segments. In addition, a physiotherapist will work on releasing muscle tension and treating trigger points to further restore joint mobility, increase muscle strength and relieve pain and headaches by a substantial margin. In most cases the therapist may refer you to your dentist for corrective devices or use other methods such as acupuncture, biofeedback and meditation to gain more control over the pain. She or he may also refer you to a TMJ specialist or surgeon. The number of people opting for physical therapy to address headaches and TMJ conditions is increasing every year, as many people prefer treating their disorder using less invasive methods.


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The Physiomobility Team