Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) can cause a wide range of symptoms that are painful and debilitating, and headaches and migraines are an excellent example. Regular headaches and migraines make it difficult to work, spend time with family and friends and even sleep. You may take medication to control headache or migraine pain, only to experience “rebound” pain once the medication wears off because the real source of the problem is not being addressed.
TMD-induced headaches are challenging to diagnose (and often misdiagnosed), but Dr. Ivan Stein of Headache & TMJ Center of New Jersey has years of experience getting to the bottom of our patients’ pain. If you have ruled out other causes of your recurring headaches or migraines, we invite you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Stein to evaluate whether your TMJ may be to blame.
Can TMJ Problems Cause Headaches and Migraines?
The TMJ is a small but extremely complex joint that controls jaw movement. It is supported by muscles found underneath the jaw and along the sides of the head. Problems with the jaw joint can cause these muscles to become tense, tight or damaged. The stress placed on the muscles can generate the pain we know as headaches or migraines.
TMJ-related headache or migraine pain usually starts around the forehead, the back of the neck or behind the eyes, and gradually travels throughout the rest of the head. The pain may occur on both sides of the head or only affect one side. It often is aggravated by the jaw movements made when chewing tough or crunchy foods, opening the mouth very wide or talking for long periods of time.
Headaches are usually described as a dull or aching pain, and migraine pain is considered sharper and more severe. Migraines are often accompanied by a sensitivity to light, sound and smell as well as nausea. Some people with migraines experience auras, or visual or sensory changes.
Decrease Headache and Migraine Pain and Restore Normal TMJ Function
When headaches or migraines develop or worsen because of TMD, addressing the malfunction of the TMJ can help soothe the pain. However, it can be difficult to know for sure whether headaches or migraines are related to a problem with your TMJ. That is why the expertise of Headache & TMJ Center of New Jersey is so valuable. Dr. Stein has spent years studying and treating TMD, and he knows how to identify the link between headaches, migraines and TMJ problems.
If you think TMD is causing your headaches or migraines, Dr. Stein will go over your history and frequency of symptoms, take down your complete medical history and perform a comprehensive jaw examination. Based on the findings, the doctor can confirm or rule out TMD.
Treating TMD looks different for everyone, but in general, Dr. Stein and our team prefer simple, reversible treatments over more invasive, irreversible therapies. Whenever appropriate, we start by recommending behavior modifications, such as eating soft foods or applying heat or cold therapy to an overworked jaw. Physical therapy is another first-line treatment for TMD.
If your bite is misaligned and putting pressure on your TMJ, Dr. Stein will need to determine the ideal alignment of your bite and jaw and then use special oral appliances to achieve that alignment. Sometimes it is necessary to reposition or reshape some or all of the teeth to improve the alignment of the bite.
Complete Care for Patients With TMD
Headache & TMJ Center of New Jersey is proud to offer comprehensive care to patients struggling with TMJ disorder throughout New Jersey and beyond. If you have been battling headaches or migraines that you believe may be linked to your TMJ, we can help. Call or email us today to request a consultation.