Can TMJ Cause Migraines?
TMJ Dysfunction is also known as jaw joint dysfunction or TMD.
People who experience migraines are often desperate to find the cause and get out of pain. Migraines are debilitating, unwelcome interruptions to daily life. In the search for the cause, it’s a good idea to leave no stone unturned—after all, finding the answer could put a stop to the unexpected and unnecessary pain! That’s why it’s good to ask the question: Can TMJ cause migraines?
The interesting fact is, just asking the question—can TMJ cause migraines—is a huge step for many people looking to end migraines. Why? Because TMJ is often called the “great imposter.” Common symptoms of TMJ masquerade as other health issues, and often people live with TMJ much longer than they have to because they never receive a diagnosis. One common symptom of TMJ is headaches—headaches that are so severe that people believe they are migraines.
Why can TMJ cause migraines or headaches?
TMJ is the wearing down of the jaw joint, and the pain from the jaw can radiate to the neck, shoulders, and head. This pain, when it manifests as a headache, can be so severe it can be mistaken for a migraine.
What is the difference between a TMJ headache and a migraine?
Medically speaking, a migraine and TMJ headache are different. A TMJ headache is a tension headache often felt as pain in the temples, behind the eyes, and in the back of the head. A migraine is a neurological condition that often is experienced on one side more than another, often with visual disturbance and light sensitivity. A neurologist is best to treat migraines, while a dentist trained in TMJ can help with TMJ headaches.
Both TMJ headaches and migraines can be chronic and severe, so a proper diagnosis matters to get ultimate relief from the pain. You can treat the migraine-like pain as if it were a migraine and find some relief. But if the headaches are caused by TMJ, the pain will reoccur until you get to the root cause and correct it.
What other symptoms indicate TMJ vs. migraines?
If you are experiencing chronic headaches caused by TMJ, you may also have other symptoms that indicate TMJ is the issue. Look for jaw-related pain or tiredness when chewing, difficulty swallowing, as well as clicking or popping sounds in the jaw when you open or close your mouth. Also, you may experience facial pain, earaches, or neck pain. And you may have other symptoms that seem unrelated, like dizziness or fainting, or numb hands.
How can you get rid of headaches caused by TMJ?
The best way to get out of pain is to treat your TMJ. And since TMJ is a progressive disorder, it’s best to be diagnosed and seek treatment before the problem becomes worse. Treatment varies based on the cause and the severity of the TMJ. It often includes an oral appliance that is worn over the teeth to stabilize the jaw. It can also include correcting a bad bite with teeth reshaping, crowns, orthodontics, or a permanent appliance that covers the teeth.
How do you diagnose TMJ headaches?
It’s good you asked the question: can TMJ cause migraines, because this question led you here. The first step to relief is diagnosis—then we can come up with a treatment plan specific to you and get you on your way out of pain! Begin with a consultation appointment. Here we can do initial diagnostic tests and an exam to determine if you have a jaw problem and discuss possible treatment options. Then if it makes sense to move forward with treatment, we can schedule a more thorough consultation and put together a full treatment plan.