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TMJ Headaches Denver

Why Am I Getting Headaches?

Headaches are a sign that something is wrong in your body. However, figuring out what is wrong can be difficult. You might talk to your doctor frequently, perhaps even see a specialist, only to get no or unsatisfying answers. Instead, they might act as if a prescription is the answer to everything. However, prescriptions often lead to incomplete relief that comes with significant side effects that may be as disruptive as the headaches. 

One headache explanation that doctors often overlook or dismiss is temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ or TMD). If your headaches are linked to TMJ, treatment can resolve them along with other common symptoms, such as jaw pain, tooth damage, and ear problems. Treatment can often be drug-free, too. To learn more about the cause of your headaches, please call (303) 691-0267 today for an appointment with Dr. Kevin Berry in Denver.

How TMJ Can Cause Headaches

A major difficulty in diagnosing headaches is that there are so many potential headache causes. You should suspect TMJ is causing your pain if you:

  • Experience other TMJ symptoms
  • Often get headaches after jaw activity
  • Aren’t getting good results from current treatment

People often experience multiple TMJ symptoms, but don’t realize that there’s a single cause behind neck pain, tooth damage, ringing ears, vertigo, and more. Take time to evaluate the list of TMJ symptoms. If you have two or more symptoms in addition to your headaches, it’s likely that you have TMJ.

People with TMJ often get headache flare ups after jaw activity, though they might not realize it at first. Even if they’re using a headache journal, they might miss it because they aren’t writing down the right details. Chewing gum or hard foods, wide yawning, talking, or just clenching your teeth from stress can all lead to pain. You might also clench your teeth at night, so if you wake up with a headache, this might be related to sleep apnea, or it could be related to TMJ.

Finally, if your prescribed treatments aren’t effective, it’s a good hint that your doctor hasn’t isolated the true cause of your headaches. This means you should consider a different approach, like TMJ treatment.

Types of Headaches Linked to TMJ

man suffering from a TMJ headache, sits at his computer, holding his faceTMJ is most often linked to three types of head pain:

  • Tension headaches
  • Migraines
  • Referred pain headaches

Tension headaches are the most common type of headaches. They result from muscle tension in your head. They generally affect both sides of your head, and feel like a steady ache, including a tightness around your head. Generally mild to moderate, these can still be disruptive, and they can last for hours, even days. Jaw imbalance can contribute to muscle strain in the head and neck, leading to tension headaches.

Migraines are complicated headaches, and we don’t have a unified explanation of their causes. However, we know that the trigeminal nerve often links TMJ and migraines. The trigeminal nerve is often the trigger point for migraines, and it’s the nerve that controls your jaw muscles. TMJ can trigger migraines by overloading the trigeminal nerve with stress and pain signals. Overworked jaw muscles can put pressure on branches of the trigeminal nerve, and set off migraines. Other times, tension headaches and other pain related to TMJ can trigger migraines.

Referred pain headaches occur when pain in another part of the body gets felt as a headache. TMJ-related jaw pain and toothaches often feel like headaches.

Suffering From Chronic Head Pain

Dr. Berry can help solve your headache problems if you have TMJ. Over-the-counter medications and even prescription medications may provide temporary relief, but come with side effects. Sometimes this is the best option, but focusing on the true cause of headaches can reveal other treatment options.

A misalignment of the TMJ can cause you to suffer from constant debilitating headaches as the entire system is physically connected to our neck, spine, and skull. The pressure and strain that is created as the body tries to pull the joint back into a more fitting position can radiate throughout the body and can put strain on the muscles, nerves, blood vessels, and other parts that are connected to our heads.

Recent research has even shown that if your headaches increase in frequency and intensity, you’re more likely to develop TMJ. This suggests that headaches may actually be one of the earliest TMJ symptoms.

The Benefits of Drug-Free Treatment

For many people, headache treatment means relying on drugs. This can provide temporary relief, but it comes with problems. First, there are the side effects of medications. Many headache medications can cause cognitive impairment, personality changes, and can stress the organs that process them in the body, including the kidneys and liver.

Medication overuse can cause headaches for people who rely on medications. Over time, people find that they rely more and more on medications to control pain until eventually, the medications become a cause of headaches.

Some pain medications can even be deadly. Recently, the CDC has encouraged doctors to move away from the use of opioids to control chronic pain, including headaches. That’s because opioid overdose has become one of the leading causes of accidental death in the US.

TMJ treatment can be noninvasive and completely reversible. It can often achieve relief without harmful drugs. When drugs are used–as with trigger point injections–understanding the true cause of pain lets us limit the quantity and frequency of medication to minimize side effects and stress on your body.

A Permanent Fix for Constant Headaches

No one wants to deal with headaches that never seem to go away. And who wants to have to rely on all sorts of medications that only work for a few hours at the most? Because of the disruptive impact and the difficulties of headache medications, treatment is a valuable option for lasting relief.

To have your headaches treated the right way, work with Denver TMJ dentist, Dr. Berry, who will be able to diagnose and treat the condition as required. When your misalignment is fixed, you can expect symptoms to dissipate as the tissues heal. Call us at (303) 691-0267 or contact us online to set up your appointment time at our Denver office.

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