Is TMJ Causing Your Migraines?

Jennifer Galvan

by Jennifer Galvan | June 30, 2011 @ 09:00AM

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MigraineMigraines are a terrible thing to live with and difficult to treat. There can be a lot of different things that trigger them and only a handful of “cures.” Having suffered from these debilitating headaches for almost 10 years, I finally learned what was causing mine – temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). This occurs when the lower jaw that connects to your skull is out of alignment. An X-ray revealed that mine was definitely out of place.

Being an avid gum chewer most of my life, I had slowly moved my jaw out of place and caused TMJ that, in turn, triggered migraines. All the headaches, eye pain, sensitivity to light, and neck pain I had been experiencing were caused by TMJ. The next step was to get treatment in order to align my jaw and stop the migraines. There are a few directions that I could have taken but I ended up working with a chiropractor; he helped by aligning my spine so that my jaw alignment would be held in place.

Through a course of adjustment sessions, my jaw was gradually aligned and my migraine headaches were gone. Since the migraines were no longer coming on, neither were any of the other symptoms – neck pain, eye pain, or sensitivity to light. After a couple of years going through my treatments, it appears that my migraines have been permanently “cured.” It is a rare occurrence that I get a headache now. But when I do, I have noticed that it is due to stress, not from TMJ. 

Another course of treatment is through dental procedures, such as braces. A co-TMJ sufferer, 31-year old Audrey was diagnosed by an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist as well as a dentist. She was told that her age is one of the most common ages for women to get TMJ. However, she sought a second opinion from another dentist and, as opposed to the ENT specialist’s recommendation, was given a much “less aggressive plan of attack for treating it” She states: “In order to treat the TMJ, I now have braces, which are correcting my bite (I have a severe overbite) and helping my jaws to sit in a more comfortable position. I also do mouth exercises a couple of times each day while sitting at my desk at work. This has already improved things for me by leaps and bounds. I still get pain, but not nearly as bad and find that excessive chewing/yawning does not cause me horrible pain as it did before.”

With the various treatments available for TMJ and the associated migraines, there’s sure to be something for everyone. From adjusting the spine and jaw bone to dental treatments, TMJ symptoms may be easily relieved. However, the first step is seeing a specialist in order to be properly diagnosed; a correct diagnosis can help in creating an effective, personalized treatment plan. 

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