05 Jul Headache Sufferer? It Could be TMJ
If you suffer from headaches you know how painful they can be. The pounding, throbbing pain can be almost intolerable at times. When a headache gets really bad there can even be nausea. Many things can cause headaches. People can get sinus headaches that normally cause pain towards the front of the head. Migraine headaches are some of the worst headaches and can be triggered by stress, these headaches lead to light sensitivity and noise intolerance when suffering from one. Yes, stress can cause headaches. Even stress from your jaw can cause headaches.
HOW TO PUT STRESS ON YOUR JAW
Stress on your jaw can come from various things. Think about the act of chewing. Your jaw moves up and down, side to side which allows your teeth to grind up food. Chewing something hard can cause stress on your jaw; opening your mouth up really wide can cause stress on your jaw; and misaligned teeth can cause stress on your jaw. This stress can lead to damage of the temporomandibular joint. This is called TMJ.
SYMPTOMS OF TMJ
There are many symptoms that will tell you that you might have TMJ. Some of the ones most people suffer from are facial pain that is atypical, equilibrium problems, speech and hearing disorders or a nerve condition that causes severe facial pain. One symptom of TMJ that may surprise you is having a tension headache.
DIAGNOSING A TMJ HEADACHE
Millions of people suffer from TMJ tension headaches. These headaches are probably among some of the most misdiagnosed headaches. This is due to the fact that a TMJ caused headache mimics the other types of headaches. Another reason for mis-diagnosis is many medical doctors are not trained in recognizing TMJ. They feel this is an area to be dealt with by a dentist. Doctors may try and treat the symptoms without treating the underlying cause.
A doctor who suspects TMJ will examine your jaw to check for popping sounds when opening and closing your mouth. They can also see if you have normal range of motion in your jaw and through pressing on areas around your jaw, see if there are areas of tenderness or pain.
HOW TO TREAT TMJ
Physical therapy may be prescribed to help stretch the jaw muscles. Many times TMJ can be caused by tight jaw muscles which won’t allow the jaw to have a normal range of motion. These physical therapy sessions may also include ultrasound and heat or ice treatments. Bite guards are also a treatment that may offer relief from TMJ as they will stop grinding and clenching of the teeth during sleep. Medications for pain and relaxing have shown to be promising treatments as well. When these therapies don’t help, surgery may be the answer.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP WITH A TMJ HEADACHE?
Treatment for a TMJ headache would be similar to a treatment for any other type of headache. You will want to take a pain medication and relax as much as possible. The trick is to avoid these headaches as much as possible. To do that you need to pay attention to aggressive chewing. Yes, that means no gum. Don’t chew on hard things like hard candy or the caps of pens. If you notice yourself clenching your jaws, relax; let your mouth drop open a bit.
As difficult as it is to diagnose why you are getting headaches, if you find you keep getting them for no obvious reason, it might be time to visit us. We can check for misaligned teeth with a manual exam as well as the use of X-rays that may show damage to the joint of the jaw. You don’t have to suffer from these headaches that rob you from enjoying your life.
If you are suffering from headaches for an unknown reason, please call us at (512) 643-6060 to see if we can help!