Many people mistake jaw pain for a headache. This can be frustrating because migraine medications designed to relieve vascular headaches may not work for this type of pain. TMJ disorders affect the temporomandibular joint, which connects your jawbone to your skull and acts like a sliding hinge. They can cause pain and tenderness in the chewing muscles, jaw, neck, shoulders, head, or ears.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)
TMJ pain, or temporomandibular joint disorder, occurs when the hinge that connects the upper and lower jaws doesn’t work properly. The complex system of muscles, ligaments, and discs moves the lower jaw forward, backward, and side to side. When the joint isn’t working correctly, it can cause pain in the head and neck area, and symptoms like clicking or popping sounds when chewing or yawning. It’s important to treat TMJ to avoid chronic pain and worsening symptoms. To learn more, visit this website at https://saunders-therapy.com/.
TMD may be caused by over-stressing the jaw muscles and the underlying structure of the joints, including the discs. This is often due to a chronic habit of clenching and grinding the teeth, known as bruxism. Injuries or dental work that put strain on the jaw can lead to TMD as well. Autoimmune diseases that affect the body’s joints can also cause TMD. It’s also possible that TMD is a secondary symptom of another painful health condition, such as fibromyalgia or irritable bowel syndrome.
While there is no definitive test for TMD, healthcare providers can find clues by listening to the patient and conducting a physical exam. They will press on the jaw and head to check for areas of discomfort, as well as examine how the mouth opens and closes. They will also ask about other pain symptoms, like a headache, to help identify the problem.
Treatments for TMD vary, and include over-the-counter pain relievers, such as NSAIDs (like naproxen and ibuprofen) and muscle relaxers, to help reduce pain and inflammation. Moist heat or cold packs can also help, especially when held on the face or temples. Physical therapy modalities, such as TENS and ultrasound circulation therapy, can improve jaw movement and decrease pain by relaxing the muscles in the face and neck.
Patients should also eat a soft diet, avoid hard or chewy foods, and try to limit the amount of gum they eat. They should also learn jaw stretches and relaxation techniques from their doctor or a certified physical therapist. These can help reduce overall stress and muscle tension, which is a major cause of TMD.
Headaches Caused by TMJ
When a person has TMJ, they can experience a wide range of symptoms. These can include headaches. The pain is caused when the jaw muscles are tight and stiff, causing the temporomandibular joint to become misaligned. This can then cause the joint to click or pop, which causes the head pain. The headaches can also be caused by the pressure that is put on the nerves around the jaw. These nerves travel to other parts of the head, including the eyes and the forehead. When the TMJ isn’t treating this correctly, it can lead to a migraine-like headache.
TMJ can also be the culprit of a tension headache, which is a common type of headache that many people don’t realize they have. The problem is that the jaw muscles, which are part of the TMJ, are very close to the muscles in the head. When these muscles are tense, they can then pass that stress on to the other muscle groups in the head, including the neck and shoulders. These other muscle groups can then trigger headaches, too.
The best way to tell if you have TMJ-induced headaches is by paying attention to the timing of the symptoms. Do the headaches occur when you chew hard foods, open your mouth to speak or yawn, or do other activities that require a lot of jaw movement? If so, that is a good sign that the TMJ may be the source of your headaches.
If you have TMJ, there are a variety of noninvasive treatments that can help alleviate the pain. These can include ice packs, wearing a sleepguard to help keep the jaws aligned while you are sleeping, physical therapy exercises that help stretch and relax the jaw’s muscles and joints, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). If you have tried these things without relief, talk to your doctor about stronger pain medications or seek the care of a TMJ specialist in your area. These may include dentists who specialize in TMJ, neurologists, ENT doctors or integrative/holistic practitioners. You can find one near you with a quick online search.
Headaches Caused by Teeth Grinding
A migraine is a severe, moderate or even mild headache that is often accompanied by other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light. The pain is usually centered in the head, although it can also extend to the cheeks and ears. The temporomandibular joint, which connects the jawbone to the skull and allows it to move, can play a role in causing headaches or migraines. This is because the muscles that move the jaw – the masseter and other muscles – tighten when people grind or clench their teeth. The resulting tension can spread to other parts of the skull, which can trigger headaches or migraines.
If you are experiencing pain in your jaw or neck, it is important to see a dentist as soon as possible. Your dentist will examine your jaw and the supporting structures and determine if there is an issue. They may refer you to a physician or therapist if necessary.
Teeth grinding is a condition known as bruxism and it can lead to headaches. It is a habit that can occur during sleep or while a person is awake. Bruxism causes the jaw muscles to tighten and use up to 250 pounds of force, which can cause tooth damage, jaw pain and other issues. In addition, the muscle activity can also lead to changes in facial appearance and jaw structure.
The earliest sign of teeth grinding is tenderness in the jaw muscle and in the surrounding tissues. This can be a good indicator of the presence of bruxism. Another indicator is difficulty chewing or yawning. If a person is experiencing these issues, they should consider getting a mouthguard to wear during sleep.
Other symptoms of bruxism include a clicking feeling in the jaw or the ear, a sore jaw, and sensitivity to hot and cold. It is also a good idea to cut down on the consumption of hard or chewy foods, which can contribute to bruxism.
Treatment options for bruxism-related jaw pain and headaches can be very effective. One of the most common is splint therapy, where a mouthguard is worn at night to prevent clenching and grinding of the teeth. Another option is a series of injections into the masseter muscle. These injections will relax the muscle and allow it to rest. As a result, the tension in the jaw and head will reduce and headaches will subside or disappear altogether.
Headaches Caused by Stress
Many people report that their jaw pain is triggered by stress. However, not all headaches are caused by stress and it’s important to recognize when your jaw pain is a symptom of another condition.
There are a number of headache disorders that can cause jaw pain, including migraines, cluster headaches, sinus headaches and angina. Migraines are severe, recurring headaches that involve pain in the head and face, usually on one side of the head, and associated symptoms such as vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, and nasal congestion. Cluster headaches are also very painful and usually affect the area around the eyes and temple, although they can be felt in the jaw. They tend to happen in a pattern and occur regularly, often waking a person during the night. They can be aggravated by light, sound, and smell.
Stress headaches are also common and usually involve tight muscles in the back of the neck and shoulders, which create a “vice-like” compression. These headaches are triggered by a wide range of factors, from emotional stressors such as depression or anxiety to physical stressors such as poor posture or eye strain. Medications like antidepressants and beta blockers may help alleviate these headaches.
If you experience jaw pain accompanied by other symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor. It may be a sign of a serious health issue.
Keeping a headache diary can help you identify the causes of your headaches, and help your healthcare provider treat them. Make sure to include what you’ve eaten in the days leading up to your headaches – this may be a clue to trigger foods. Try to get more rest and avoid overworking your body. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, talk to a therapist about ways to manage your stress levels. Finally, be sure to use a pillow that supports your spine and practice good posture. Also, take regular “me” time, and get involved in your community to build a support system. These steps can all help reduce the frequency of your stress-related headaches.