Types of Headaches

Headaches come in many different forms, but most fall into four different categories:
  • Tension
  • Migraine
  • Cluster
  • Sinus
Most of them can be associated with TMJ, though, as we noted, there are many different potential causes, so it’s important to explore multiple explanations.
Black woman massaging her forehead while sitting on the edge of her bed

Tension Headaches and TMJ

Tension headaches are most common, accounting for 80% or more of headaches. They range in severity from minor to moderate, though in rare instances they can be severe. They tend to be diffuse, and are often described as feeling like a tight compression on either side of the head, and pressure across the forehead.

They are related to TMJ because when the jaw muscles work inefficiently or are in a constant state of stress, they can put pressure on your head (the temporal muscle, one of your muscles of mastication, is anchored just behind your eye), or they can pass their stress on to other muscles, which then put tension on your head.

Migraines and TMJ

Migraines come in many different forms, most of which are characterized by pain in the face or neck, throbbing in one area, sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, or distorted vision.

One of the most common trigger points for migraines is the trigeminal nerve and its branches. The trigeminal nerve runs right by the temporomandibular joint and its branches are interlaced with the muscles of mastication. Adverse jaw stress can put pressure on the trigeminal nerve or its branches, triggering migraines.

TMJ treatment is often successful at dramatically reducing migraines, but usually won’t eliminate them completely.

Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches are named because they tend to occur in clusters, with a number of short, intense headaches occurring soon one after another for a short period of time, days or, rarely, weeks. They are often described as severe pain on one side of the head, usually around the eye, accompanied by a drooping eyelid, small pupil, tearing, runny nose or redness on the same side of the head. They often occur at night, often in the early hours of the morning.

These aren’t normally associated with TMJ, but they are often associated with sleep apnea.

Sinus Headaches

Sinus headaches are caused by swelling and infection of the sinuses, which are hollow spaces inside the skull that are connected to our airways. They are a pain in the face, sinuses, eyes, ears, or forehead, congestion, itching, runny nose, fever, swelling in the face. They are treated by treating the infection, which eliminates congestion and swelling, and, therefore, pain.

However, most of what people label as “sinus headaches” are actually something else. Many of them are tension headaches, caused by tense jaw and skull muscles that overlie the sinuses. Others are migraines caused by pressure on the trigeminal nerve, which carries pain signals from the region.

Finally, many so-called sinus headaches are actually toothaches in the upper teeth, which are referred to as the sinuses by the complex overlap of nerves in the face.

TMJ Treatment for Headache Relief in Michigan

For many people, TMJ treatment can lead to headache relief. We offer many drug-free, noninvasive approaches to treatment. This includes TENS, a gentle electric muscle massage, a bite splint, and Summus Medical Platinum Laser therapy. The Summus Medical Platinum Laser stimulates your body’s natural healing mechanisms to reduce pain and speed healing. Dr. Jeffrey S. Haddad is the only one in Michigan offering this treatment for TMJ.

If you live in the greater Detroit area and want to learn whether TMJ might be the cause of your pain, please call (248) 480-0085 the Michigan Center for TMJ & Sleep Wellness in Rochester Hills today for an appointment.

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Learn more about how we use Summus Medical Platinum Laser Therapy to treat headaches.

Self Screening: Are You at Risk for TMJ?

young woman suffering from TMJ pain rubs the side of her mouth

TMJ Assessment

TMJ is commonly misdiagnosed. Use our custom self-assessment to determine if you should talk to a TMJ dentist about your symptoms