Is there a link between TMJ and your tension headaches?
The temporomandibular joint, or the TMJ as it is often referred to, is the joint that connects the lower jaw to the skull. If you place your hand on the side of your jaw, just near your ears and open and close your mouth, you should be able to feel this joint in action.
In healthy people, this joint moves smoothly and without any problems or pain. TMJ sufferers, on the other hand, can experience a wide range of symptoms ranging from mildly irritating to downright painful. If you are suffering from TMJ dysfunction, you are most certainly not alone – between five and ten percent of the American population suffers from the same symptoms.
Common Symptoms of TMJ
TMJ manifests itself in many different ways and can be caused by general wear and tear or trauma to the joint and surrounding areas. Jaw pain and tension headaches can be common symptoms, but you might also experience the following:
- difficulty biting or chewing
- clicking sounds when moving the jaw
- facial pain
- a grating feeling when chewing
- less range when opening or closing your mouth
- tender pain around the jaw
Is TMJ Causing those Tension Headaches?
If you are experiencing regular tension headaches and you suffer from TMJ, you may be told by your physician or through self-diagnosis that the two are linked. This can be true, but studies have shown that only a small percentage of tension headaches are actually linked to TMJ.
One of these studies was carried out by the School of Dental Medicine at the University of Buffalo. The study was not limited to tension headaches. it also included findings for mixed migraines and sub-clinical headaches. The studies show that in many cases, headache caused by TMJ symptoms was being mistaken for a classic tension headache.
For the TMJ sufferer, this could mean that the symptoms of TMJ are treated successfully while the tension headaches still remain because they were unrelated to TMJ. At the New Jersey Headache Institute, we can diagnose the reason for your headache, no matter how mild or severe. Our headache experts will make no assumption that your headache is related to another condition until a full diagnosis has been done. We treat every new case on an individual basis so that you can be sure your treatment plan is designed for you and you alone.
If you are suffering from TMJ and experiencing frequent headaches, make an appointment with our team today for a personal assessment. Call us at 908.660.4382 or use our contact form to book a consultation.
Dr. Payman Sadeghi is the co-founder of the New Jersey Headache Institute. He studied medicine at Nordestana University and finished his Internal Medicine internship and Neurology residency at the University of Texas. Dr. Sadeghi has completed an electromyography super fellowship as well as many epilepsy and neuroimaging fellowships. At his residency in Neurology at the University of Texas Medical Branch Dr. Sadeghi gained extensive experience diagnosing and treating headache and migraine patients. That residency, along with Dr. Sadeghi’s medical curiosity and his varied clinical experience, has made him a specialist in headaches and their treatment.
Dr. Sadeghi was also a clinical assistant professor during his time at the University of Texas. He is a member of the American Headache Society, the National Headache Foundation and the American Academy of Neurology. Dr. Sadeghi is fluent in English, Spanish, French and Persian.