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What are TMJ Headaches?

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TMJ headaches refer to tension headaches, the most common type of headache, and is described as a painful sensation similar to the feeling when wearing a hat that is too tight for the head.

Overview of the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) and TMJ Disorders (TMD)

The temporomandibular joint pertains to the joint that connects the skull to the mandible, or the lower jaw bone. The unique characteristic of this joint lies in the presence of the so-called articular disc, which is sandwiched between the bones that forms it. Any disease that causes pain or dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint, and of all the tendons, muscles, ligaments, blood vessels, etc. associated with it, is referred to as TMD, which is short for temporomandibular disorders. Nevertheless, the abbreviation TMJ itself is frequently used to refer to the disorder. Most TMJ disorders are caused by physical stress on the muscles around the joint. Other causes can be arthritis, joint dislocations, and structural defects acquired since birth.

How TMD causes TMJ headaches

There are a number of explanations on how TMJ disorders can cause headaches. One of them, and perhaps the most popular, explains that in this type of disorder, the TMJ muscles are in a constant state of contraction, resulting to tension, or a tight feeling on the head. This, in turn, leads to decreased blood supply on that area. To compensate, the body will try to send more blood in, resulting to increased blood pressure in the muscles and in the head. This condition is commonly referred to as vascular headaches. This headache can be felt on the temples, at the back of the head, and sometimes, on the shoulder area. Jaw clenching and teeth grinding, which are also symptoms of TMJ disorder, can contribute to the pain caused by the headache.

TMJ headaches are severe in nature and occurs very frequently that it is always mistaken and managed as migraine headaches, or sometimes, as brain abnormality.

Treatment for TMJ headaches

The treatment for this type of headache, or for the TMJ disorder for that matter, is through taking medications (analgesics and muscle relaxants) or undergoing surgical procedures. The results, though, will be very limited since these treatment do not really address the root cause of the disease. More often than not, there is also a high chance that the disease will recur and persist. It is suggested that the best way to get rid of TMJ headaches is to visit a dentist to have your bite corrected, or help you get rid of any oral habits that may have contributed to the TMJ disorder.

If properly treated, TMJ disorders and all of its symptoms, including the headache, will be gone in no time. Just remember that as soon as you notice that there is something wrong, never hesitate to seek help from your health care specialist. The earlier the treatment is rendered, the greater the chance of preventing yourself from suffering from the debilitating symptoms of the disease.


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