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TMJ Headache Location: Is Your Jaw To Blame For Your Headaches?

Man experiencing pain behind his ear due to tmj

If you suffer from frequent headaches, determining the cause can be frustrating. One overlooked culprit of headaches is temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD/TMJ).

TMJ headache locations are distinct and have patterns that set them apart from other types of headaches. Understanding these distinctions is key to finding the right treatment.

Where Is a TMJ Headache Located: Where Do TMJ Headaches Hurt?

The temporomandibular joint connects your jawbone to your skull. Since this joint is located around the sides of your head, TMJ headaches typically occur in these regions. Specific TMJ headache locations include:

  • Temples
  • Cheeks
  • Ears
  • Jaw
  • Neck

To know where TMJ headaches are, TMJ headaches don’t usually occur in just one spot. Most people experience pain that radiates across their cheek, temple, and neck areas and the pain is often described as one-sided.

How Do I Know If My TMJ Is Causing a Headache

Pay attention to when and how your headache pain occurs. TMJ headaches tend to have these distinguishing characteristics:

  • Pain worsens with jaw movement (talking, chewing, yawning)
  • Tenderness, tightness, or pain in your jaw muscles
  • Jaw locking, popping, or clicking sounds
  • Changes in your bite
  • Tooth pain or sensitivity

If your headaches are accompanied by any of those TMJ symptoms, the joint dysfunction could be contributing to your headaches.

Which Jaw Pain Leads to Headache?

It is important to pay attention to where you feel TMJ headaches because both sides of your jaw are connected to the temporomandibular joint. However, issues on one side more commonly trigger headaches:

  • The right TMJ connects more closely with surrounding nerves and blood vessels. Dysfunction here can irritate those tissues leading to headaches.
  • Since most people chew more heavily on their left side, the right joint handles more strain over time. This makes it more prone to problems.

How to Help TMJ-Related Headaches

The good news about TMJ headaches is that treating the root source tends to effectively ease symptoms. Some solutions for TMJ headaches include:

  • OTC pain medication
  • Hot or cold therapy
  • TMJ-specific pain relief devices (night guards, bite splints)
  • Stress reduction and relaxation techniques
  • Jaw exercises and stretches
  • Physical therapy modalities
  • TMJ injections
  • Orthodontic treatment to realign bite
  • Oral surgery (last resort option)

Final Thoughts

Properly diagnosing the cause of your headaches is important to choosing suitable therapies for lasting relief. Additionally, identifying your TMJ headache location is important to get the proper diagnosis.

If over-the-counter methods aren’t helping, make an appointment at Raleigh TMJ and Sleep. We can evaluate your jaw alignment, joints, and oral condition to determine if TMJ treatment is warranted.

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TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre of Raleigh-Durham

  • 1150 NW Maynard Rd, Suite #140
    Cary, North Carolina 27513
  • (919) 323-4242
  • Monday: 9am – 5pm Tuesday: 9am – 6pm Wednesday: 9am – 5pm Thursday: 9am – 6pm Friday: 9am – 1pm Sat - Sun Closed We always have someone to answer the phone from 9-5pm every day
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