Having rounded the Thanksgiving corner and headed straight home for the holidays this year, most of us are looking forward to enjoying special times with friends and family. But some of us are also dreading the annual recurrence of headaches that accompany the season. Whether you call them Christmas migraines or Hanukkah headaches, these holiday pains can be related to temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ).
When Food + Family = Headaches
Whether your traditional family cookie is a sugar cookie or a biscochito, food is a big part of the holiday ritual for us all. Unfortunately, food can also help contribute to TMJ-related headaches.
Although we love them, our families often cause us stress, especially when we’re hosting them and have to try to get all the cooking done. Many people carry that stress as tension in the jaw muscles.
This tension is worsened by all the eating we do over the holidays, from crunchy carrots in the veggie tray to hard toffee snacks. When you have TMJ, your jaw is imbalanced and chewing can lead to significantly more exertion than in a healthy jaw system. As the muscle tension in the jaw increases, it passes that tension on to other muscles in the head and neck, causing headaches and/or neck pain.
Shopping Headaches and TMJ
TMJ might also be contributing to the headaches you experience as a result of holiday shopping.
Of course, holiday shopping is stressful, and although Black Friday is behind us, there is still likely to be many times when you’re fighting your way through the crowds at the mall. And that’s going to lead to tension in your jaw, but there’s more to it than that.
Your jaw isn’t just for chewing, it’s an important part of the system for supporting your head and ensuring balance. It’s an important anchor for your muscles, and when you exert yourself, your jaw clamps down to provide stability to ensure maximum muscle efficiency.
When you have TMJ, the jaw isn’t as effective at this job, meaning that your other muscles aren’t able to work as well. You can find yourself getting sore and fatigued more quickly when hauling your heavy purchases around the mall and back to your car. This also causes neck pain and headaches.
Get Something to Smile about This Season
Headaches can be a real drain on your ability to be merry at this time of year. If you want to get rid of these headaches so you can better enjoy the season, we can help.