What TMJ Headaches Are Like
TMJ headaches are usually muscle tension type headaches. Pain can extend from the jaw up to the sides of the head around the temple behind the eyes. You might also feel it at the back of your head or neck. This dull, achy pain typically occurs on both sides of the head, but it might also occur on one side of the head or the other depending on the patient.
However, TMJ can also trigger migraines, and increasing migraine frequency is associated with TMJ.
Why TMJ Headaches Happen Every Day
TMJ headaches can occur most days because you are using your jaw every day. Biting, chewing, talking, swallowing, and more rely on your jaw muscles. When your jaw muscles aren’t working well with each other and can’t find a comfortable position for rest, they will have tension that increases significantly.
Even at night, teeth clenching and grinding can lead to increased tension in your jaw muscles.
Treating TMJ Headaches
The proper TMJ treatment for headaches depends on the type of TMJ you have. For most people, muscle tension is the primary cause of TMJ symptoms. Therefore we need to first relax your muscles. We do this with TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation), a kind of electric massage. Many people feel instant relief and can enjoy days free from symptoms with this approach.
However, for long-term relief we determine the optimal position for your jaw, then create an oral appliance that helps you hold it in this position. This helps your jaw muscles relax, leading to less jaw pain and fewer headaches.