How to Identify Migraines Caused by TMJ – Treatment and Management

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SOURCE: Harvard Health Publishing

Individuals who suffer from frequent, painful headaches are often diagnosed with migraines. A migraine is a throbbing headache that often has additional symptoms aside from pain such as nausea or impaired vision.

Typically, migraines can be treated with over-the-counter pain medication and rest. But what if the usual treatment for migraines doesn’t eliminate the problem? If that is the case, then you could be dealing with migraines caused by TMJ.

At Deldar Dental, we specialize in treating patients who deal with painful TMJ-related migraines. Our team of dental experts has the training and knowledge needed to help you differentiate between a typical headache and a TMJ migraine.

How to Tell if Your Migraines Are Caused by TMJ

A study performed by the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine revealed that TMJ migraines are usually misdiagnosed as tension headaches. 82% of females and 17% of males involved in the study showed signs of TMJ. The team at Deldar Dental can help you learn more about the particular symptoms associated with TMJ migraines so that you can tell the difference.

Here are a few signs to look for:

  • Facial tenderness or pain
  • Earaches
  • Crackling or grinding sound when you move your jaw
  • Stiffness in the joint that makes it difficult to open or close your mouth

It is important to notice the symptoms associated with typical migraines, such as nausea and sensitivity to light or sound. These are often not associated with TMJ.

How does TMJ cause Migraines?

SOURCE: Mayo Clinic

TMJ is short for temporomandibular joint,  a hinge that connects the lower jawbone to the skull. It is what allows us to move our jawbone while we speak or eat. The joint is supported by various muscles that can be found under the jaw located near the cheeks and along the side of the head. These muscles are also connected to our shoulders and chest.

If you have an issue with the temporomandibular joint, it is known as a temporomandibular disorder or TMD. TMD is often caused by the incorrect positioning of the teeth whenever the jaw is shut. The misalignment causes extra strain on the muscles, which can lead to a migraine.

Why Is It Difficult to Diagnose Migraines Caused by TMJ?

Headaches that are caused by TMJ are so severe that they can easily be misdiagnosed as a typical migraine by a medical doctor. Your family physician may treat your TMJ migraine as a regular one because many of the symptoms are the same.

The symptoms of TMJ Disorder

The most common symptoms of TMJ disorder include:

  • Jaw locking
  • Ear pain
  • Bruxism
  • Jaw pain
  • Eye pain
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Facial pain
  • Spasms
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Jaw popping

Will Treatment for Regular Headaches Resolve a TMJ Migraine?

No. Pain medication for standard headaches or migraines may help resolve some of the pain temporarily, but it will not take care of the root of the problem.

The issue with a TMJ migraine is not with the head or the muscles near the temples. Instead, a TMJ migraine is caused by the straining of muscles around the jaw. Our team at Deldar Dental can help you get rid of the pain associated with a TMJ migraine.

What Are the Treatment Options for a TMJ Migraine?

To treat a TMJ migraine, it is important to find ways to relieve stress on the jaw. To do this, try keeping the face relaxed with your teeth apart and lips together. You can also try massaging your jaw, temples and cheeks.

Additionally, avoiding grinding or clenching your teeth as much as possible can help minimize the number or severity of TMJ migraines that occur.

What Happens if Migraines Caused by TMJ Are Not Treated?

If TMJ disorder is left untreated, it can get worse over time and become more disruptive. Problems such as jaw pain or migraines may become more difficult to treat. Therefore, it is important to seek necessary treatment if you suspect that you have TMJ.

Why You Should See a TMJ Dentist if You Suspect Your Headaches are More Than Migraines

TMJ disorders will not go away on their own. And if left untreated, they will only get worse over time. If you think that your tension headaches or migraines are misdiagnosed, it is time to make an appointment with our TMJ experts for a full evaluation.

I am Dr. Mike Deldar DDS, and I want to help you enjoy living without the pain of TMJ migraines. Our team at Deldar Dental treats patients like they are a part of our own family.

Let us help you get to the root of your migraines with a correct diagnosis by making an appointment with us today. We can be reached at 317-208-0000.

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