Symptoms of TMJ Headaches: Can Headaches be Caused by TMJ?
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Can Headaches be Caused by TMJ/TMD?

headache caused by tmj disorder

Can Headaches be Caused by TMJ/TMD?

Headaches can be symptomatic of numerous things, including temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ, TMD). So, how can you determine if TMJ is the source of your pain or if something else is triggering the discomfort? Find out more about TMJ headaches and their symptoms below.

Connecting TMJ and Headaches

Every headache has a cause, and TMJ headaches are no exception. The closeness of the jaw to the head means that pain can easily travel upward. The aches only become more intense given the many nerves located near the TMD. The result is a huge headache caused by a small amount of jaw-related pain.

headache caused by tmj disorder

Common Causes of TMJ Headaches

Where TMJ is concerned, there are two primary reasons for a headache. The most common cause is jaw tension. When people clench their teeth (the medical term is “bruxism”), this activity tires the muscles and joints surrounding the mouth, which causes jaw pain, in addition to wearing down the teeth.

The pain travels up from the jaw to the temples, where it can show up as mild, severe, or a level of discomfort in-between the two. Grinding the teeth can also result in cramping of the jaw, leading to pulsating headaches that feel like migraines.

Another frequent reason for a TMD headache is a misaligned bite, which puts a strain on the jaw. The stress of trying to keep the jaw in proper positioning can tire the surrounding tissues, including facial muscles, and, when this happens, the result is a headache. Poor posture is also to blame for increased jaw pain.


Symptoms of TMJ Headaches

How often the headaches occur can be a sign of the cause of the head-related pain. As per recent studies, frequent headaches can be symptomatic of TMJ issues. If the sufferer does not receive treatment for TMD, then a painful, tired jaw can become a chronic condition.

In addition to frequency, there are other common symptoms of headaches caused by TMJ. Conditions often occurring along with the jaw pain that may be symptomatic of TMJ include:

  • Atypical pain in the cheek muscles
  • Earaches
  • Muffled-ear sensation
  • Achiness in the shoulders and/or neck
  • Jaw locks in open- or closed-mouth position
  • Bad Posture
  • Challenges with swallowing
  • Reduced mobility
  • Snoring
  • Tinnitus (ringing, buzzing or hissing in the ear)
  • Tightness of the jaw
  • Popping click when opening the jaw
  • Jaw shifts position when mouth opens wide

Where are You Feeling the Pain?

Taking note of the pain location is useful for determining whether a headache stems from a TMJ issue or not. If a migraine, sinus or tension-like headache occurs in the temples, forehead or behind the eyes, jaw pain is likely the cause of it. The same holds true of both neck discomfort and stabbing pain that starts at the base of the head and travels to the scalp.

Treatment to Relieve TMJ Pain

Although taking medication may be tempting as a way to dull the achy feeling, it will only mask the pain, rather than address the real TMJ issue. In Houston, Dr. Moradi is a leading specialist in TMJ disorders for patients of any age.