Although the words “migraines” and “headaches” are often used interchangeably, medical definitions prove that the two, while similar, are completely different. Migraines are diagnosed as headaches that are preceded and/or accompanied by sensory warning signs. A migraine is often experienced along with tingling in the extremities, nausea, and sensitivity to light and sound. Additionally, while headaches generally last a few hours, migraines can last for days.

Many different things can trigger migraines, depending on the individual person. Some experience them because of loud noises, extremely bright lights, or certain smells; while others can trace them to stress, hormone fluctuations, certain foods, and even sleep problems. At the same time, TMJ disorder can also be a cause of migraines, leaving many sufferers in intolerable, excruciating pain.

If your current migraine treatment isn’t working, and you have other TMJ symptoms, you should consider TMJ treatment for your migraines. To learn whether TMJ is to blame for your migraines, please call  today for an appointment with Denver TMJ dentist Dr. Kevin Berry at the TMJ Therapy and Sleep Center of Colorado.

A elderly woman suffering from a severe migraine

How Can a Jaw Joint Problem Cause Migraines?


Many wouldn’t associate the jaw and the head; however, the two body parts are closely connected. The jaw joint, known as the temporomandibular joint (TMJ,) is connected to the body by various shared muscles, nerves, and tendons. The jaw joint is mainly connected to the face, neck, spine, as well as the head. In patients who suffer from undiagnosed and untreated TMJ, the imbalance within the jaw sparks all sorts of painful and uncomfortable symptoms, including headaches.

When the jaw joint isn’t in its ideal position, the body will naturally attempt to fix the problem by forcing the jaw into a more balanced place. Unfortunately, these unconscious actions increase the level of tension and stress on the jaw joint. Since the jaw joint is connected to other parts of the body, the tension and stress can radiate, causing painful symptoms in multiple areas. This is why many TMJ patients suffer from neck pain, lower extremity pain, and migraines in addition to jaw pain.

The Trigeminal Nerve Is the Intersection of TMJ and Migraine

Although we don’t fully understand the mechanism of migraines, for most people, overstimulation of the trigeminal nerve plays a key role in the process. The primary role of the trigeminal nerve is to carry signals to and from the head and face, including the muscles of the jaw. It’s these jaw muscles that can link TMJ with migraines.

In TMJ, the muscles of the jaw can’t find a good relaxation position. Constantly tense jaw muscles either put pressure on branches of the trigeminal nerve or they trigger overstimulation of the nerve with their constant signals of tension and pain. For one type of migraine, removing blood vessels and membranes that put pressure on the zygomatictemporal branch of the trigeminal nerve (ZTBTN) or cutting the nerve off led to migraine relief. Jaw muscle tension may affect the pressure put on the trigeminal nerve.

More generally, BOTOX ® injections into the jaw muscles to relax them has become an FDA-approved treatment technique. This includes injections into the temporal muscle, one of the primary jaw muscles.

BOTOX ® treatment for migraine can be effective, but TMJ treatment can achieve relaxation of the jaw muscles without injections. And you won’t need to get retreatment every 12 weeks as is recommended for BOTOX ®.

TMJ Treatment Treats the Root Problem and the Symptoms

Several different things can trigger migraines; however, if you also experience common TMJ symptoms, such as jaw pain, neck pain, and clicking or popping when you open and close your mouth, you could have a misaligned jaw. Only a proven TMJ treatment can rebalance and realign your jaw, while permanently eliminating pressure and tension. To learn more about treating migraines caused by TMJ, contact Dr. Berry’s Denver-area office today. You can schedule your appointment by email or by calling us at (303) 691-0267.