Headache is one of the most common symptoms of illness and conditions. Dehydration? Headache. Overexertion? Headache. Flu? Headache. So how do you link your headache to the condition that’s really causing it?
One of the great ways to do this is to keep track of your headaches with a headache diary. You can use a physical diary, but these days there are many headache diary apps that you can install. They’re typically oriented toward migraines, but they can work even if you don’t know or don’t think you have migraines.
After using a headache diary for a while, you might recognize some patterns emerge, and these patterns might indicate that TMJ is behind your headaches. Here are some of the more common times that TMJ will cause headaches.
Headache after Jaw Activity
Do you sometimes get headaches after working your jaw too hard? Common instances include doing an unusual amount of talking, chewing a tough meal, or chewing gum.
Jaw muscles are the largest muscles in the skull, but when you’re using them more than usual they may not be able to handle it–especially if you have an unbalanced or inefficient bite. And then your bite will recruit help from other muscles, which tenses them as well. You may have a headache that you feel behind your eyes, around your nose, or on the back of your head extending to your neck.
We all know that stress can lead to headaches. But how does it cause them? It’s rarely the stress itself that makes your head hurt. Instead, there are intermediary causes. Maybe you’re drinking too much alcohol to try to calm your nerves. Or maybe it’s caffeine that you lean on. It’s possible you’re not getting enough sleep.
But for many people, the issue is jaw clenching and grinding. Many of us carry stress in our jaws, and this constant tension can cause headaches the same way chewing or talking can.
Do you regularly get headaches in the morning. This could be related to TMJ because many of us clench and grind at night. You won’t know that’s what you’re doing–you’re asleep–and when you wake up, you might only notice the pain in your head. It could seem like a sinus headache or a hangover.
How Do You Know?
Of course, there are many other things that could be causing headaches at these times. So, how do you know that TMJ is the cause? Look for other TMJ symptoms, such as:
- Jaw pain
- Teeth wear
- Jaw popping and clicking
- Jaw lock
If you think TMJ might be the cause of your headaches, it’s important to get treatment quickly. TMJ is a degenerative condition, and the longer you put off treatment, the worse it becomes.