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Michael B. Rogers, DDS
The Relationship Between TMJ and Headaches
Fairlington Dental
. http://www.fairlingtondental.com/

The Relationship Between TMJ and Headaches

The Relationship Between TMJ and Headaches

TMJ disorders, otherwise known as Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, include the joint of the jaw and the muscles that surround it.  These disorders can often be very painful and may include symptoms that mimic other conditions.  These may include neck and shoulder pain and headaches and often make it difficult to yawn, eat, or swallow.  It is not unusual for people to go to their medical doctor due to this pain and be tested for many different things such as tumors or herniated discs, only to find there is nothing wrong in those areas.  This can become quite expensive after the use of MRI’s or CT-Scans.  TMJ and headaches are extremely common and often is a relatively easy thing to treat after diagnosis from a dental expert.

Many times, people that have TMJ will go years with severe headaches that doctors can find no reason for.  It is often stumbled upon during a dental exam, or only after a patient learns what the symptoms are and proceeds to make an appointment with a dental practitioner that specializes in TMJ and headaches.  Some of the symptoms may be a clicking or popping sound in the jaw when the jaw is fully opened, or even the inability to open the jaw completely.  For many people this creates no pain or is not evident, but it may be noticed that when opening the jaw completely, the jaw will “slip” to the side during the movement.

One of the most common compensation patterns for TMJ disorder is known as forward head position.  It turns out that sticking your neck out or slouching with your head forward takes a lot of the pressure off of the jaw joints.  Of course, that comes at a price of increased tension in the neck and upper back muscles, leading to headaches, neckaches, and pain between the shoulderblades.  If the forward head position persists for too long the symptoms can reach the lower back and even the feet.

There have been many treatments used over the years in order to treat TMJ and headaches, including surgeries; most of these do not work as successfully as hoped.  Treatment for TMJ and headaches is done on a per patient basis, as the findings of tests are going to vary.  One of the most popular, and one that seems to work the best is the wearing of two different appliances, one during the day and one at night.   This is a far less invasive treatment approach that seems to work very well in most people that suffer from TMJ and headaches.

Even if you don’t remember any accident that may have caused injury to the jaw area, if you are suffering from migraines and doctors have found no true cause, pay attention to the other signs of TMJ, but don’t rely on them.  Make an appointment with a dental professional that specializes in TMJ disorders and learn if they can help reduce your pain or eliminate it altogether.

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