Headache and TMJ
Headache and TMJ syndrome may go together if you have chronic recurring headaches. While wildly over diagnosed in the 1970's recently newer imaging techniques, such as MRI's, have allowed for a better look at this facial joint that causes so much pain.
TMJ or temporomandibular joint syndrome as the disorder is commonly called is poorly understood at the present time in terms of how it is caused. While many patients have bruxism or grinding of the teeth at night, others may have had trauma, osteoarthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis.
Many times the cause is unknown.
For those of you with
the constant clenching of the jaw causes muscle spasms in the temples. This then leads to a migraine.
Testing for TMJDiagnosing TMJ headache involves a good history of how you sleep, grinding habits during the day and general tension. An exam of the jaw should involve palpation of the joint both inside and outside of the mouth.
Imaging of your jaw may be needed to find out how much damage is in the joint. X-rays, a CT of the jaw or even an MRI would assist the doctor. Many dentists who are specialists in this problem are now ordering MRIs of the jaw which gives them an accurate look at the joint and the disc pads of the joint.
Once diagnosed you should be referred to a dentist who specializes in TMJ syndrome.
Treatment of TMJTreatment of TMJ may greatly reduce your headaches! But like anything else, a mult-factorial approach to the problem will yeild the best results for you.
Overuse of jaw muscles. This is mostly a lifestyle change. You must be willing to recognize when you are grinding your teeth during the day and learn to relax the jaw. Also, try not to eat foods that are difficult to chew until you heal a bit more.
Appliances. Depending on your particular situation, the dentist may make a bite plate or splint to help align your teeth at night. A night guard appliance could also be used to help prevent grinding.
Medications. Various medications may ease your pain and thereby reduce your headaches. A short course of steroids will reduce inflammation, or if the condition is not severe an anti-inflammatory could be used. Spasming of jaw muscles could contribute to the problem, and the ideal medication for this is
Surgery. This is a final option and is reserved for cases where the above options have failed. In this case the joint is so badly damaged that joint reconstruction or replacement may be recommended. And again..your headache and TMJ may be reduced!