It is quite common for adults and children to experience headaches. Among dozens of headache types, perhaps a tension headache is one of the most usual culprits. If you ever had a headache that causes an imaginary ring of pain around your head, you might be experiencing TMJ tension headaches. For professional help in easing the tension caused by this condition, please read further to learn more.
Overview: The Temporomandibular Joint
The temporomandibular joint, also known as TMJ, is a hinge-like body part that connects your jaw to your skull. It allows you to create movements with your jaw muscles, particularly in an up and down and side to side motion. These movements are necessary when talking, chewing, and laughing.
The temporomandibular joint is more complicated than most joints present in our body. However, many people are not aware of its importance. Problems affecting the TMJ can lead to a variety of symptoms, including headaches and oral concerns. These are commonly known as TMJ disorders.
What are TMJ Disorders?
Temporomandibular joint disorders, also known as TMJ disorders, is the most common cause of chronic pain. This condition is often mistaken for a typical headache because of its comparable symptoms. However, TMJ disorders pose a lot more severe concern.
Aside from causing an unbearable tension headache, it can affect a person’s oral health. TMJ disorders make it impossible for the jaw muscles to move. But when it does move, it is often accompanied by a severe headache. Therefore, a person suffering from TMJ disorder may find it difficult to talk, eat, and perform everyday activities.
TMJ Disorder and Headaches
TMJ tension headaches characterize as a sharp pain that radiates from the back of the neck and leads to the skull area. It is then followed by a stiff sensation around the jaw muscles. Some people also describe the painful headache as a form of migraine.
It can be challenging to distinguish between TMJ tension headaches and a typical headache. As of today, there are still no specific statistics that show its distribution and probability.
TMJ Disorder and Oral Problems
On the other side, TMJ disorders can also cause oral problems. Several patients often describe it as a dull pain affecting the jaw muscles and their nearby areas. Clenching the jaw puts an additional strain on its muscle, which causes further inflammation.
In severe cases, TMJ disorders can also reach the ear and lead to general dysfunction of the jaws. Difficulty in jaw movements often results in dental concerns that could affect a person’s overall health.
What Causes TMJ Disorders?
There are no studies yet that could explain the exact cause of a person’s TMJ disorder. Additionally, TMJ disorders can be challenging to diagnose. However, a combination of genetics, jaw injury, and arthritis, is a significant precursor in existing cases. Research has also shown that through habitual clenching of the jaws and teeth grinding, you can further increase the possibility of developing TMJ disorders.
What Are the Treatment Options for TMJ Disorders?
In most cases, you can get temporary relief from TMJ disorders through self-management and nonsurgical therapies. Typically, you can resolve the condition by directly addressing its symptoms. If conservative measures do not work, your doctor can suggest surgical treatments. Surgery is the final resort for tension headaches and jaw pain that cause severe discomfort.
At-Home Remedies for TMJ Disorders
Here are some valuable tips that could help you treat and prevent painful TMJ tension headaches and oral problems brought by a TMJ disorder:
- Massage Therapy
If you are experiencing TMJ tension headaches, gently kneading your jaw will help ease your pain. By doing so, you are increasing the blood flow in that area. This technique helps release pressure and reduce the occurrence of a swollen jaw.
Carefully place your fingers above the mandibular joint. In a circular motion, gently massage the area until you feel some relief. Be mindful of applying too much strength as it could worsen the condition.
- Mental Health
Anxiety and stress can be a significant cause of tension headaches, including TMJ headaches. When a person faces stressful situations, involuntary movements happen. Clenching the jaw is a typical body response to tension which leads to prolonged stiffness.
To prevent stressful situations, you can practice your mind with some mental health exercises. Meditation and relaxation techniques can also help you address conflict and confrontations better.
- Facial Exercises
Facial exercises can help relieve the discomfort caused by TMJ disorders. By focusing on your jaw area, you can soothe tense muscles and alleviate pressure build-up. If you want to get the most out of your facial exercises, you can try face yoga. There are several positions that help ease facial joint pain, including chin tucks, goldfish, and tongue twister.
- Lifestyle Changes
Incorporating changes in your lifestyle is a natural way to resolve symptoms of a TMJ disorder. If you often experience headache and jaw pain, experts suggest proper assessment of your current lifestyle. You can improve your quality of life by identifying areas that could be the source of your disorder.
- Pain Relief Medications
If the tension headache becomes intolerable, you ask your doctor if you can take some over-the-counter medications. Pain relief medicines can help ease the symptoms associated with TMJ disorders. However, it is not advisable to rely on these medications as a daily dose for pain management.
When left untreated, TMJ disorders can result in unpleasant changes. If symptoms persist after following the above remedies, it is probably best to consult your doctor. Be sure to contact a qualified professional to get an in-depth treatment regimen.