Migraines remain one of the most hard-to-treat medical mysteries today. Many people with migraines try numerous treatments before they find one they stay with, and even then most people aren’t happy with their migraine treatment. Our inability to treat migraines is due, in part, to our inability to understand migraines. And it’s likely that understanding migraines is made much worse by the fact that migraine is actually a blanket term that describes many conditions that haven’t been properly distinguished, much like TMJ. So, it seems that improving migraine classification could improve migraine treatment.
Researchers recently tried to create a classification of migraines on the basis of conditions that overlap with migraine. The system is obvious in its early stages, but hopefully it will bear fruit in terms of better migraine treatment as it gets better.
Discovering Natural Classes of Migraine
This study hoped to use a relatively large database of migraine sufferers to discover the types of migraines that occur naturally in the population. Researchers started by identifying patients with migraine and at least one other condition (called a comorbidity). It turns out that, of 12,810 migraneuers responding to a survey, 11,837 (92%) had at least one other comorbidity.
Researchers then used a mathematical analysis tool called “latent class analysis” to see if the population naturally fell into groups on the basis of their other conditions. It turns out that they broke down into eight categories, which the researchers described as follows:
- Class 1: Most comorbidites
- Class 2: Respiratory/Psychiatric
- Class 3: Respiratory/Pain
- Class 4: Respiratory
- Class 5: Psychiatric
- Class 6: Cardiovascular
- Class 7: Pain
- Class 8: Least comorbidities
When researchers analyzed the population of these different classes, they found that other variables, not used in the sorting process, varied between the classes, increasing the likelihood that these classes represented truly distinct forms of migraine.
For example, people in class 1 were much more likely to have chronic migraine than people in class 8 (23% vs. 9%). Obviously, this classification system is in its infancy (class 1 and class 8, for example, seem arbitrary and unlikely to be helpful in guiding treatment), but it at least seems like a good start.
Do Your Comorbidities Indicate TMJ Is Linked to Your Migraines?
Not everyone’s migraines are the same, and not everyone’s migraines will respond to the same treatment. So how do you know if your migraines will respond to TMJ treatment? One excellent first step is to consider some of your other symptoms. If you have symptoms like:
- Jaw pain
- Ear-related symptoms like tinnitus and vertigo
- Worn, chipped, or cracked teeth
- Jaw sounds like popping, clicking, or grinding
Then it’s likely that TMJ is either responsible for or contributing to your migraines.