The causes of headaches aren’t always clearly defined. Headaches can be triggered by any number of things from lifestyle or diet to biochemical causes and they can be difficult to isolate. But when someone accounts for these variables and does everything they can to avoid triggering headaches they often persist. That leads us to another contributor to headaches: TMD.
What things are usually pointed to as headache causes? As mentioned above, things like lifestyle, diet, and biochemistry can all act as triggers. Specifically, headaches can be caused by:
- Nerves and blood vessels surrounding the skull
- Muscles in the head and neck
- Certain foods or skipped meals
- Poor posture
While these causes seem to be independent of one another, they all have at least one thing in common: Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). A disordered jaw joint can contribute to each of these causes. There are four primary ways to tell if your headaches may be caused by TMD:
- After jaw use
- Occurrence before, during, or after clenching
- Accompanied by jaw pain, clicking, or restricted movement
- Other TMD symptoms
1. After Jaw Use
When do your headaches usually start? Is there a trend in the kinds of things that you’re doing that might trigger a headache? Pay attention to how you feel after eating, long periods of talking (presentations, meetings, etc.). If you notice that these activities set off a headache episode, TMD might be the underlying cause.
2. Occurrence Before, During, or After Clenching
Clenching and grinding your teeth are classic symptoms of TMD. Nervous tics are often held responsible for these kinds of behaviors, but they might be a sign of TemporoMandibular Dysfunction as well. Waking up with headaches in the morning might be a tell-tale sign that you’ve been clenching or grinding your teeth during the night.
3. Accompanied by Jaw Pain, Clicking, or Restricted Movement
Temporomandibular Dysfunction often manifest in the jaw first. If you experience jaw pain or jaw-related symptoms simultaneously with headaches, it could signify TMD.
4. Other TMD Symptoms
Headaches are a common TMD symptom, but other associated symptoms are beyond the jaw as well:
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears), ear stuffiness, or ear pain
- Vertigo or dizziness
- Tooth damage or wear
- Neck, shoulder, or upper back pain
- Tingling or numbness in the fingers
TMD Treatment and Headache Relief
If at least one of the four methods above resonate with you and your experience with headaches, it may be because they’re a result of TMD. For more information about the health of your jaw joint or headache treatment schedule a consultation with Dr. Raman by calling (816) 436-4422.