Headaches can be caused by a number of factors including food, lifestyle choices, allergies, and environmental irritants. Chronic, debilitating headaches are often an indication of a larger problem, and more frequently than you might imagine, that problem is temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ or TMD).
TMD is any disorder that affects your temporomandibular joint. Your temporomandibular joint is responsible for the movement of your jaw and, if misaligned, can lead to a host of problems including tension and migraine headaches. When TMD goes undetected, the common solution is prescription or over the counter pain medications. Not only can these medications lead to organ failure, they fail to treat the underlying problem and cannot decrease the frequency, duration, or severity of chronic headaches.
What Causes TMJ Headaches?
TMJ headaches can be caused by increased strain to the muscles and tissues surrounding your jaw. Within these muscles are a series of four nerves that affect pain sensation throughout your face and neck. These nerves are:
These nerves control pain sensation throughout your face, neck, and head. If one of these nerves is impacted, all four nerves will begin relaying pain signals to your brain. The end result is often serious, painful headaches that interfere with every aspect of your life.
Tension headaches and migraines are the two headaches related to TMD. Tension headaches produce tight pain in bands around your head and in your temples. Migraine headaches produce throbbing pain in one particular area of your head. Both types of headaches can have accompanying symptoms like dizziness, nausea, and increased sensitivity to light and sound. Both types of headaches can also produce substantial pain that interrupts your thought process and leaves you reaching for pain medications.
When you chose pain medications to treat a headache, you may find temporary relief, but only through treating the underlying problem can you ensure your headaches do not reappear. When a headache is caused by your TMJ, a neuromuscular dentist can customize a treatment option that corrects the source of your problems. When your jaw is in proper alignment, your facial nerves will no longer send pain signals to your brain, and your reliance on pain relievers can be greatly reduced.