Causes of TMJ Headaches
Physicians often have a hard time tracking down the cause of headaches. They may follow the likely causes as they see them, but may never consider that your bite may be part of the problem. However, when you have TMJ, temporomandibular joint disorder, your bite can cause:
- Muscle tension headaches
- Migraine headaches
- Referred pain headaches
By addressing the root cause, TMJ treatment can reduce the frequency and severity of these types of headaches and in some cases eliminate them altogether.
TMJ Tension Headaches
Tension headaches are the most common type associated with TMJ. When your temporomandibular joint is not functioning properly, it forces your muscles to work harder. Because the muscles in your jaw partner with muscles in your head and neck, tension in your jaw muscles gets passed to the partner muscles, resulting in headaches and neck pain.
Migraines and TMJ
Migraines are probably the most poorly understood headaches, as well as the most severe. Doctors admit that they don’t fully understand the causes of migraines, but one trigger point is the trigeminal nerve. The trigeminal nerve runs right by the temporomandibular joint on either side of your head, so when you suffer from TMJ, it can get irritated, which can trigger severe migraines.
Tension headaches are also known to serve as migraine triggers, so when your TMJ is causing tension headaches, it puts you at risk for more frequent migraines.
Referred Pain Headaches
Referred pain is a strange phenomenon of the human body. It occurs when the stimulus for pain happens in one place, but the pain is felt in another place. It seems strange, but it’s actually very common. If you’ve ever experienced brain freeze (also called an ice cream headache), you’ve experienced referred pain, since the stimulus that causes it is actually a painful cold feeling in your mouth.
TMJ causes many kinds of jaw pain, which can be felt as referred pain headaches.