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The TMJ Dysfunction / Migraine Headache Link

Posted by on May 23 2021, 03:58 PM

The TMJ Dysfunction / Migraine Headache Link

TMJ dysfunction is a painful condition of the jaw that causes head and neck pain in various forms. Everything from the inability to open and close one’s mouth to tinnitus of the ears and even migraine headaches are common side-effects of TMJ (temporomandibular joint dysfunction). TMJ dysfunction occurs when the temporomandibular joint does not properly align with the skull, causing it to click, pop, and come out of the socket. This can be debilitatingly painful, and that pain isn’t always localized to the jaw.

One major complaint of those with TMJ dysfunction is migraine headaches. Migraine headaches are often considered worse than other headaches, as they come with their own unique set of painful side effects. Migraine sufferers can experience everything from ‘aura’ to nausea and dizziness. Migraines are often caused by the trigeminal nerve, which can release chemicals around the brain to protect itself from stimuli, such as the clenching of the teeth which occurs when the TMJ sufferer clenches his or her jaw due to pain or stiffness.

So, what is the connection between migraine headaches and temporomandibular joint dysfunction?

The problem starts with the muscles involved in the TMJ joint and jaw. You see, when there is a problem with the TMJ joint, the muscles surrounding those muscles may feel residual pain, and that pain may cause or contribute to TMJ dysfunction.

Furthermore, the jaw can become injured while treating migraines, such as if surgery is required and the patient must be intubated. This can worsen the problem of TMJ dysfunction, or create a new one where there wasn’t one before.

Thankfully, there are treatment options for both migraine headaches and for temporomandibular joint dysfunction. Those include things like physical therapy, tricyclic antidepressants, massage therapy, corticosteroid injections, and neuromuscular dentistry for treating temporomandibular joint dysfunction. These treatment options or a combination of these treatment options can be effective in the battle against both TMJ and migraines.

If you suffer from TMJ dysfunction and migraines, it's very likely there could be a connection between the two. Speak to your doctor about your migraine headaches, and to Dr. Abelar if you suspect you may have temporomandibular joint dysfunction.


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