Your dentist may be able to shed a little light on chronic head pain. Millions of Americans struggle with temporomandibular joint (TMJ) headaches without realizing it. This complex joint allows the lower jaw to fit and function against the skull in front of the ears, and one or both joints may become inflamed. Unfortunately, TMJ headaches are frequently overlooked by physicians because symptoms often mimic other types of headaches. The pain may feel like it’s in the sinuses, over the top of the head, or up through the temples. But pain doesn’t always show up at the source. It often radiates to nearby sites and confuses the search for an origin.
A recent study at the University of Buffalo examined nearly 600 patients with TMJ pain symptoms. Researchers demonstrated that in 82% of subjects, physical pressure over the TMJ area produced pain that presented as a classic muscle tension headache. Although TMJ symptoms were present in all participants, 152 were diagnosed with tension headaches only.
The lead researcher noted that “TMJ is very treatable, but if a jaw disorder is ignored, then treatment for a headache may not address all of the factors contributing to the headache.” Many providers evaluating headache patients don’t understand the relationship of these joints to chronic pain conditions. It’s simply vital that every headache sufferer receives an evaluation of this region.
While migraine headaches are linked to a vascular cause, TMJ disorders can aggravate the Trigeminal nerve and trigger their onset. This major nerve links many structures in the head and neck. While not a guarantee, migraine headaches may be reduced with proper management of these associated problems.
Review the following questions to see if your headaches may be linked to a TMJ disorder. Keep your answers to discuss with Dr. Milner:
If you answered YES to three or more of these questions, there’s a significant chance that you’re suffering from TMJ headaches. But management of this affliction frequently involves conservative measures offering dramatic relief from pain. Dr. Milner’s experience with TMJ headache disorders includes focusing on the cause of the problem, not just the symptoms. We’re here to help you or your loved ones discover optimal health and pain-free living!