According to a new study, migraine sufferers are nearly twice as likely to suffer from Bell’s palsy. Although researchers in the study haven’t explained the link, it could tell us more about migraine, and further explain how TMJ treatment helps migraine sufferers.

woman with bells palsey holding her faceWhat Is Bell’s Palsy?

Bell’s palsy is an unusual condition in which a person develops a (usually temporary) dysfunction in one of  the nerves that serve the face, called the facial nerve or the 7th cranial nerve. This typically results in partial or complete paralysis of certain facial muscles. Among the effects of Bell’s palsy are:

  • Twitching, weakness, or paralysis
  • Drooping of the eyelid
  • Drooping corner of the mouth
  • Drooling
  • Dry mouth
  • Dry eye
  • Impaired taste
  • Excessive tearing
  • Jaw pain
  • Ear pain
  • Tinnitus
  • Sound sensitivity

The wide variety of symptoms makes the condition similar to TMJ, and like TMJ it is often a temporary condition. It is typically caused by swelling of the facial nerve, which causes it to be impaired by the bony channel it travels through, called the Fallopian canal.

The Link between Migraine and Bell’s Palsy

The new study followed more than 136,000 migraine sufferers and age-matched controls for an average of 3.2 years. In this time, 671 migraine sufferers developed Bell’s palsy while 365 controls developed the condition. Statistical analysis showed that people with migraines were about 1.91 times more likely to develop Bell’s palsy than those without.

What This Means for Migraines and TMJ

Exposing the link between Bell’s palsy and migraines adds additional evidence to the theory that the primary trigger for migraines is not in the brain, but in the peripheral nerves, especially the important cranial nerves, including the trigeminal nerve. This explains how TMJ can contribute to migraines and how TMJ treatment helps eliminate them: derangement of the jaw system can irritate nerves in the jaw and face, resulting in irritation that triggers migraines. By fixing this derangement, irritation decreases and so do migraines.

If you would like to learn whether TMJ treatment might be able to help your migraines, please call (303) 691-0267 for an appointment with a Denver TMJ dentist at the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado.