The pain from a TMJ headache can be extraordinary. It generally radiates from the neck and head and is preceded by a severe stiffness in the jaw.
For some it’s the type of pain that’s not only hard to miss, it’s hard to identify. TMJ headaches can be easily mistaken for a common headache because the symptoms are so similar. But there are some key differences that set a TMJ headache apart from a garden-variety stress headache.
TMJ Pain or Headache?
By tracking your symptoms, you can note the differences between both types of pain, address the right cause and find lasting relief more quickly. Usually, according to Mayo Clinic, pain radiating from the TMJ comes with:
- A crackling or grinding sound when you move your jaw.
- Stiffness in the joint, making it difficult to open and close your mouth.
- Facial tenderness and pain.
At the same time, it’s unlikely that headaches originating from the TMJ would cause symptoms that severe headache and migraines share: nausea, sensitivity to light or sound and fatigue, for instance. A TMJ headache can, however, trigger a migraine for those who are susceptible to them – another reason why addressing TMJ pain is so vital to your overall health.
How to Cope with It
The best way to cope with TMJ pain and stave off a full-blown migraine is to address the pain right at the source. You can actually prevent some of the symptoms by avoiding unnecessary use of the jaw, and participating in a few easy stress-relieving exercises. Here are the best ways to prevent a TMJ headache and deal with its associated pain.
- Skip the gum. Opt for mints or mouthwash. If you’re a frequent gum-chewer, it might be time to eliminate the habit; overuse of the jaw muscles can inflame the TMJ, resulting in pain and stiffness.
- Try to relax. Stress is a common trigger for TMJ-related pain because most people tend to tense their jaw when under tight deadlines, dealing with family drama or otherwise in an uncomfortable situation. Participating in just a half-hour of exercise each day, taking short breaks from stressful work or even taking a yoga class can help you relax naturally on your own.
- Massage your jaw. Gently kneading the TMJ can help increase blood flow to the area, allowing you to do away with most of the pain and inflammation. Place your first three fingers on the TMJ (you’ll find it about three inches back from the corner of your mouth) and press down on the joint, massaging in a circular motion. Continue until you notice relief.
- Take an over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever. When you discover your jaw beginning to become tender or stiff, an OTC NSAID pain reliever can reduce inflammation quickly before it becomes more problematic.
Diagnose Your TMJ Pain
If you are living in Southern California and are tired of living with chronic pain from headaches, migraines, or a TMJ disorder, contact Pasadena Pain Management for a FREE consultation.
Let us help you start living PAIN FREE again.
About Pasadena Pain Management
Pasadena Pain Management offers pain management treatment for TMJ/TMD, migraine, headaches and neck pain in Pasadena, CA. Our office is conveniently located with extended hours to meet your needs. At Pasadena Pain Management, we offer the exclusive TruDenta treatment therapy — a highly specialized form of care that involves cutting-edge dental technology, without needles or injections. Patient satisfaction is our top priority and we strive to provide the exceptional, affordable pain management care and personal touch that lead to lasting relationships. A smiling patient is our greatest reward and we look forward to keeping our patients happy and pain free.