TMJ Headaches is a common TMJ syndrome. Sometimes headaches can be a direct result of TMJ disorders, or other times they can be secondary. The typical headache that occurs with TMJ is a tight, dull aching headache. It is most commonly on one side, but can be on both. Normally, it is worse on the side where the TMJ is worse. The headache is aggravated by jaw movement and relieves with jaw relaxation. It also is usually associated with tenderness of the jaw and nearby muscles.
In contrast, migraines are more throbbing and sharp. They also can be associated with many funny symptoms affecting sensation and vision. While TMJ disorders can make migraines more common in occurrence, they do not directly cause migraines. The general problem with headaches is their features are not very specific for any one condition. Therefore, any headache can result some a serious condition. If you have other TMJ features, and the headache is typical for TMJ, then the diagnosis of its cause is easier. However, if other TMJ symptoms are absent or the headache is unusual for TMJ, investigation to assess other conditions in recommended.
Headaches occur in TMJ syndromes because the swelling and inflammation in the temporo-mandibular joint travels to other muscle and ligament tissues in the jaw area. As it spreads, muscles become tight and inflamed causing spasm. This results in headaches around the skull, face and even neck areas. Sometimes, headaches occur in TMJ disorders also because of asymmetry in the jaw’s alignment. This creates a joint and muscular stress that can cause tension headaches as well.
In short, it is important to watch the company a headache keeps in TMJ disorders. It is reassuring when other TMJ symptoms are present, and less so when they are absent. Regardless, headaches are very common with TMJ syndromes and often are the main reason for seeking treatment.
Other TMJ Symptoms: