TMJ Headache Relief: A Comprehensive Approach

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    TMJ Headache Relief: A Comprehensive Approach
    • Ann C McCulloch
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    TMJ headache relief starts with knowing if you have one. Here we define what a TMJ headache is, discuss the symptoms of a TMJ headache, and introduce a comprehensive approach to TMJ headache relief.

    What Is A TMJ Headache?

    According to the diagnostic criteria of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, any headache that is attributed to an underlying temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder is considered a TMJ headache. Put another way, TMJ headache is simply a headache directly associated with TMJ symptoms.

    Headache is the only TMJ symptom that has its own specific diagnostic criteria, according to the Diagnostic Criteria for Temporomandibular Disorders (DC/TMD).For a diagnosis of “headache attributed to TMD”, the headache symptoms should be affected by jaw clenching, chewing, or other movements, and they should be replicated when TMJ structures are provoked (with deep touch for example).

    Headache and TMJ disorders have considerable overlap, with around 70% of headache sufferers having clinically confirmed TMJ disorders.

    TMJ Headache Symptoms

    The symptoms of a TMJ headache will have both headache symptoms and TMJ pain. A TMJ headache can be any type of headache, with tension type headache and migraine headaches being the most common.

    Symptoms of a tension headache are:

    • Pain in a band-like pattern around the temple area
    • Pain that is aching, squeezing, or dull
    • Sensitivity in the temples, neck, and shoulders
    • No nausea or vomiting

    Symptoms of a migraine headache are:

    • Pre-migraine symptoms like mood swings or constipation
    • Visual disturbances (aura) before or during the headache
    • Throbbing pain in the temple area
    • Sensitivity to light, sound, and touch
    • Nausea and vomiting

    While there are over 30 different types of TMJ disorders, the most common TMJ disorder symptoms include:

    • Jaw pain or tenderness
    • Dull pain in the face or jaw muscles
    • Decreased range of motion of the jaw
    • Pain with chewing, yawning, or talking
    • Jaw clenching or grinding
    • Popping or cracking sounds in the joint
    • Pain referred to the ear

    For your headache to be a true TMJ headache, you must be able to reproduce the headache symptoms by provoking the TMJ. This may be easy, like using deep touch in the temple area to see if it approximates the headache pain. Other times, it is not so straightforward, and you may require a health professional to get a clear diagnosis.

    TMJ Headache Relief

    Headache and TMJ disorders have significant overlap in terms of anatomy, biology, and clinical features. While there are many medical interventions for TMJ related headaches, including Botox injections or medications, it’s a good idea to start with conservative therapy first.

    To see if your TMJ disorder is causing your headaches, consider trying a comprehensive protocol, such that each intervention has an additive effect in providing jaw pain relief. This non-invasive and natural approach will include the following:

    • Physical Therapy: Jaw exercises are considered first line therapy for painful TMJ disorders and have consistent positive treatment results.
    • Jaw Rest: It is important to rest the jaw by eating a “TMJ diet” which consists of soft food diet, avoiding chewy or hard foods, and avoiding gum chewing.
    • Heat Therapy: Applying heat packs to aching jaw muscles can increase blood flow, reduce pain, improve tissue extensibility, and promote movement.
    • Splinting: Using an anterior bite splint for the jaw is like using an ace bandage for an injury. Oral splints support the jaw, prevent harmful clenching, and help the jaw joint find its most comfortable position.

    The Speed2Treat Home Healing Kit provides all the resources you need for a comprehensive approach to TMJ headache relief.  This includes the QuickSplint, a custom anterior bite guard that you fashion yourself and is ready to use on the same day as delivery. Also included are a jaw wrap with reusable hot/cold packs, a pain tracking workbook, a physical therapy guide, and videos on self-care and pain management strategies.

    Start your journey towards TMJ headache relief today with the Speed2Treat Home Healing Kit!

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    Founder and CEO of Orofacial Therapeutics


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