Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) and headaches seem to be an unlikely duo. After all, they’re equally debilitating and can cause significant disruptions in your life if they occur together. Sadly, studies reveal that they can indeed manifest at the same time. This can sound very disheartening for someone looking for ways to achieve TMJ pain relief. That’s why we thought of tackling this duo and how they can potentially redefine your approach to pain management.
TMD and Headaches: What’s Their Connection?
Plenty of people living with TMD note that they experience headaches. And notably, studies support these claims. Here are a few examples of insights provided by various TMD and headaches studies published over the years:
- TMD patients experience both primary and secondary headaches. The specific types of these headaches include:
- Migraine with aura
- Tension headaches
- Chronic whiplash-related headaches
- Headaches and masticatory myofascial pain are strongly related.
- Patients with TMD usually have decreased pain thresholds.
- Misaligned jaws cause involuntary tooth contact, which can, unfortunately, impact the trigeminal nerve, a nerve root widely associated with the onset of severe migraines.
Until today, researchers continue investigating the connection between TMD and headaches. It would be interesting to learn more about them, so patients can understand the necessary remedies or steps to cope. But, while you wait, it may be best to tap into existing remedies and TMJ pain relief options.
How Can Patients with TMD and Headaches Navigate Daily Challenges?
Countless patients looking for ways to achieve TMJ pain relief also look into remedies that help alleviate headaches. Here are a few things you can try yourself:
Reduce pressure on your jaws
The last thing you want is to put more pressure on an already painful temporomandibular joint. So, we strongly recommend against chewing hard food products like nuts, apples, and carrots. It is also helpful to steer clear of chewy items like toffee and gum.
Additionally, we suggest avoiding opening and closing your mouth too much when you yawn, sing, or talk. This will help lessen the mechanical burden on your jaws and TMJ.
Try jaw techniques
Working on your jaw muscles can help alleviate the pressure on your irritated TMJ. Hence, it would be worth it to include simple jaw exercises such as the following in your self-care routine:
- Chin tucks
- Goldfish exercises
- Resisted mouth movements
- Tongue-to-roof exercise
Try doing these exercises several times a week to help build your muscle strength and improve your jaw’s overall condition. We also recommend paying close attention to how your jaws react to activities, so you don’t overdo them or cause more harm than good.
Explore pharmacologic treatments
Oral pain medications can help alleviate TMD pain. Several patients use pharmacologic treatments such as anti-inflammatories, antidepressants, antiepileptic agents, and muscle relaxants. If you would like to explore this option, we suggest speaking with your physician so you can determine what specific medications you should take.
We also strongly warn against taking medications without following your doctor’s instructions. This can pose complications and risks and reduce the efficacy of your chosen pain-relieving and muscle-relaxing drugs.
Take advantage of physical therapy
Physical therapy helps TMD patients in three distinct ways: reducing TMJ inflammation, improving jaw joint mobility, and strengthening jaw muscles. Therapists trained in fixing TMD-related issues can also help you plan activities to prevent you from causing additional mechanical strain on your painful jaw joints.
Explore occlusal therapy
Teeth misalignments or malocclusion is among the widely investigated triggers of TMD-related headaches. It might help to speak with a dental doctor to determine if you have this issue. A quick consultation will also provide helpful insights on interventions needed to restore or adjust your jaw alignment and minimize impact between your teeth each time you eat, speak or perform other similar activities.
Check if you need upper cervical chiropractic adjustments
Besides teeth malocclusions, it’s worth looking into your uppermost neck bones. That’s because several case studies associate cervical subluxation or neck bone shifting with TMD and headaches. A thorough diagnosis of your cervical spine using advanced imaging techniques can help your attending TMJ chiropractor to provide tailored-fit adjustments.
You’re One Step Close to Lasting TMJ Pain Relief
Do you experience TMD pain and headaches? An Upper Cervical doctor might be able to help. Notably, postural imbalances can compromise the jaw structure and set off problems like TMJ pain. Thankfully, by correcting neck misalignments, you can potentially enjoy significant TMJ pain relief and manage the risk for complications like headaches and migraines.
Thorough neck bone assessments will help you pinpoint specific points involved in the posture problem and the approximate degree of upper cervical subluxation. This will help your attending Upper Cervical doctor provide a more helpful approach to alleviating your TMD and headaches.
Then, once you have a better grasp of your posture problems, your Upper Cervical chiropractor can start applying targeted and gentle adjustments to your C1 and C2 bones. Besides the Upper Cervical Chiropractic adjustments, the regimen includes other modalities like self-care techniques and lifestyle adjustments. This way, you know that you use a holistic approach to eliminate the pain and experience significant changes in your TMD and headaches.
Get in touch with an Upper Cervical chiropractic doctor in your city to determine if you have neck bone misalignments and if they have prevented your jaws from working perfectly. The sooner you can have things figured out, the better your chances of managing your condition and its accompanying risks.