Does TMJ Cause Migraines? TMJ pain can be physically stressful, which could possibly trigger migraines if the inflammation and pain are significant enough. Learn how to Get Rid of Headaches Naturally.
Migraines are a serious problem for many people in the modern world. When you’re dealing with something so painful and debilitating, it’s easy to feel there’s no way out. But what if we told you that the solution to your migraines was right under your nose?
If you suffer from migraines, your face might be the problem. This might seem bizarre, but it’s often caused by a jaw misalignment known as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). Below we will discuss the main causes of TMJ and the most effective ways to prevent it from happening and keep your migraines in check.
What is Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Pain?
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain is a condition in which pain occurs in one or both of the two joints on either side of your jaw. These joints connect your jawbone to the temporal bones of your skull.
The pain can be severe and make it difficult to move your jaw when opening your mouth, chewing, or talking. You may also experience a clicking sound when you open and close your mouth.
What Does a TMJ migraine Feel Like?
People who suffer from TMJ migraines may experience symptoms such as:
- Tenderness or pain when chewing or talking.
- A feeling of pressure around your forehead, eyes or ears.
- Pain or tenderness when you bite down in certain areas of your mouth.
- Numbness and tingling in your arms or hands.
The muscle and joint pain associated with TMJ can come and go over time. It can also start mild and become severe over time.
How Do You Treat TMJ Migraines?
Treatment for TMJ migraines varies depending on the severity and cause of your condition. Read on to learn about how to treat them.
If you have TMJ migraines, your doctor may prescribe medication for migraine relief. These medicines are taken when you feel a migraine coming on or after an attack has started:
- Pain relievers
Over-the-counter pain relievers (OTC) such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen may help ease the pain caused by TMJ migraines.
Triptans are prescription medications that narrow blood vessels in your brain, which helps relieve migraine pain by preventing inflammation. Examples include sumatriptan (Imitrex) and rizatriptan (Maxalt). Triptans may not be safe if you have certain conditions, such as high blood pressure or heart disease.
- Stop clenching or grinding your teeth.
Eliminating this habit can help relieve your symptoms immediately. (That’s why most people with TMJ migraines grind their teeth at night.)
When you wake up, try to stretch and yawn before you brush your teeth. This will help stimulate blood flow to your jaw muscles, reducing muscle stiffness and improving “snap” that helps ease TMJ symptoms.
- Cold packs
Wrap a cold pack in a towel, pry it apart, and put it on your face for five minutes at a time. This doesn’t always work, but it won’t hurt to try if there’s inflammation going on.
- Ice massage
Fill up a baggie with ice, put it in the freezer for 20 minutes, and rub the ice across your face. Repeat this a few times. If all else fails, see your doctor.
How Long Do TMJ Migraines Last?
There isn’t a simple answer to this question because each person experiences a different pain level and for different lengths of time. In general, however, these types of headaches usually last anywhere from 15 minutes to six hours. However, some people have had them last even longer than six hours at a time.
How Do I Know If My Headache is from TMJ?
If you suffer from frequent headaches, especially tension headaches or migraines, along with clicking or popping when opening your mouth, you should see your doctor for an evaluation.
A physical exam and X-rays are two ways doctors diagnose TMJ disorders. They will check for tenderness on the joint and any abnormal sounds when opening and closing your mouth. Your doctor may also ask you to open your mouth while he gently presses down your head to see if it hurts.
The other symptoms of TMJ include:
- The headaches usually start at the base of your skull, or in your temples.
- Your headaches feel worse in the morning.
- Your jaw muscles feel sore or tense.
- The pain is worse when you chew.
- You notice that your ears are popping or ringing.
- If you notice any of these symptoms, see your dentist for diagnosis and treatment.