Temporomandibular Joint Related Headaches
What is a Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Related Headache?
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ)-related headaches are a secondary headache caused by issues in your jaw (TMJ). The headache can feel like a tension-type headache, but is also associated with pain or tightness in your jaw.
What is the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ)?
Your jaw is made up of the lower bone of your jaw (mandible) and your skull (temporal bone) to form the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Your jaw is the most used joint in the body, as it is used for eating, talking and even swallowing.
What Causes TMJ Related Headaches?
TMJ-related headaches can be caused from a variety of things including:
- Temporomandibular disorder (TMD)
- Grinding teeth
- Osteoarthritis in the jaw
- Jaw hypermobility
- Osteoporosis in the jaw
What are the Signs and Symptoms of TMJ Related Headaches?
TMJ-related headaches are most often recognized by a tight pain in the jaw, in association with a mild to moderate headache all over. Other symptoms include:
- Pain, swelling, or tenderness of the TMJ joint, making it difficult to open and close your mouth
- Stiffness, and/or a locking or sticking feeling of the jaw
- Tight facial and jaw muscles
- Pain in your teeth
How are TMJ Related Headaches Treated?
TMJ-related headaches can be treated at home and in a clinical setting. To ease the pain associated with TMJ-related headaches, you can:
- Apply ice to your neck
- Avoid clenching your jaw
- Use anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to ease the pain
Physiotherapy for TMJ Related Headaches
A pt Health physiotherapist will assess your TMJ-related headache; depending on the cause and severity of your TMJ-related headache, treatment can include:
- Strengthening and range of motion exercises
- Manual therapy (joint and soft tissue mobilizations)
- Soft tissue massage
- Stretches to decrease the frequency and intensity
- Education on migraines and migraine prevention
- Pain relieving modalities such as:
- Therapeutic ultrasound
- Heat and ice therapy
- Electrical stimulation
- Assistive devices to improve neck support, such as therapeutic pillows
- Functional retraining and activity modification
Do TMJ Related Headaches go Away on Their Own?
Yes, a TMJ-related headache will resolve itself on its own and with the assistance of home treatment. However, they are likely to reoccur without treating the underlying issue with your jaw that is causing the TMJ-related headaches.
Can TMJ-Related Headaches go Away on Their Own?
If you have an increased risk of developing TMJ-related headaches (you have a temporomandibular joint disorder) speak to your physiotherapist about your specific therapeutic needs. However, you can take steps to avoid TMJ-related headaches including:
- Practice good posture
- Avoid clenching your teeth
- Avoid hard and chewy foods