TMJ migraine is a common TMJ symptom of TMJ disorder. Migraines are a special type of headache that is primarily a neurologic disorder. However, in TMJ disorders, like in many other conditions, the presence of TMJ can trigger a migraine to occur more commonly. Migraines affect more than 30% of the population. Think of a migraine patient having a threshold level. If the level of stress rises above the threshold, then a migraine occurs. If it stays below the threshold level, everything stays fine.
Stresses can come in many forms. Stress can be physical, emotional, chemical, environmental, and even dietary. For TMJ, it is mostly a physical stress that causes migraines to occur. If the inflammation and pain are significant enough in TMJ, it can raise the stress level into a migraine. In this way, think of TMJ disorders as a migraine trigger rather than a direct cause of migraines.
Migraines are usually one sided headaches that most commonly have a throbbing sensation of pain. Other symptoms that occur with migraines include nausea, vomiting, irritation with light, seeing sparkles in your vision, feeling tingling sensations on the skin and dizziness. They can be mild or severe.
Non-migraine headaches associated with TMJ can also be one sided, but the pain is usually stead and not throbbing. In addition, unless the TMJ triggered a migraine, the other complaints are not usually present. TMJ headaches result from muscular inflammation and inflammation of adjacent tissues around the jaw. Tightness is more common as is muscular tenderness.
If migraines do develop or become more frequent in the setting of TMJ symptoms, certainly treating the TMJ disorder may help the migraines as well. Once TMJ is eliminated, the threshold level of stress may be low enough for the migraines to resolve. In this case, the important thing is to look for the other symptoms of TMJ. If TMJ is present, treating this may prevent having to invoke other migraine therapies.