Tension Headaches and TMJ

The most common type of headache is a tension headache. This headache is caused by tense muscles in the head, and it’s often related to TMJ. It can make it so that your jaw muscles can’t find a comfortable rest position, which leads to escalating muscle tension.

This muscle tension can lead to tension headaches. That’s because the largest muscles in the head are the jaw muscles. Some of them even extend as far up as your temples. If you have a headache on either side of your eyes, it’s likely linked to a jaw muscle. In addition, jaw muscles commonly partner with other muscles to support the head and perform other functions. Through these partnerships, they can pass on their tension.

Migraines and Sore Jaw Muscles

Although migraines are still not fully understood, we know enough to see a clear link between migraines and TMJ. The key trigger point for migraines is the trigeminal nerve. When overloaded, this nerve causes the release of proteins that results in migraines.

The trigeminal nerve is also the control center for your jaw muscles, sending control signals from the brain to the muscles and taking pain signals from the muscles to send to the brain. When the jaw muscles are tense and sore, the trigeminal nerve can get overloaded, leading to migraines.

Is TMJ Linked to Your Headaches?

Since there are many causes of headaches, it can be hard to know if your headaches are related to TMJ. The only way to know for sure is to get an exam from Rochester Hills dentist Dr. Wolfe.

However, you should suspect TMJ might be linked to headaches if:

  • Headaches flare up after intense jaw activity (including exercise where you might clench your jaw)
  • You have other TMJ symptoms
  • Traditional headache treatments give limited or no relief

If this describes your headaches, you should see Dr. Wolfe for an evaluation.

Relief without Drugs

Doctors commonly prescribe medication for people with regular headaches. Sometimes this is effective, and sometimes it is not, but it alwa