Headaches are a common occurrence for some, probably more common now with the lifestyle changes and stresses of the current lockdown and Covid situation!

We know they can be postural or stress related, meaning we need to drink more water or reduce our screen time but did you know your pesky headache could be coming from your jaw? Your temporomandibular joint aka TMJ is often overlooked as a headache causing factor especially if someone has never experienced jaw pain or jaw issues before.

Your TMJ is located on the side of your head just in front of your ears. It consists of the temporal bone and the mandible bone that is separated by an articular disc. The TMJ is a complicated joint where different issues can arise:

-Muscular imbalance (common issue)

-Bruxism (grinding or clenching)

-Trauma/ injury

-Arthritis areas around the joint are highly sensitive so if anything does go wrong, it is often accompanied by pain. (1)

TMJ disorders can lead to various symptoms such as:

-Pain or tenderness over the joint

-Pain with eating/ difficultly chewing

-Locking of the joint

-Clicking/ grating sounds

-And of course, headaches! (1)

Typically a TMJ headache is a tight, dull headache over the temple region, and can be unilateral or bilateral depending on the where the issue is. It is usually associated with tenderness of the nearby muscles. These headaches are normally made worse with any jaw tension such as clenching, stress or simple jaw movements. (2)

TMJ headaches can often be confused with migraines. However, migraines are often throbbing in nature, cover one side of the head (sometimes the whole head), and may occur with other symptoms such as auras, sensitivity to sound and light as well as feelings of nausea. (2)

TMJ headaches are a common presentation and are something that we treat at Camberwell Sports and Spinal Medicine. Treatment will involve addressing tight muscles and any imbalances in the neck or jaw.

Techniques may include:

-Soft tissue massage

-Intra-oral techniques

-Dry needling

-Joint mobilisation techniques

-Muscle energy techniques

If you find yourself struggling with a headache that you do not know the cause of and it won’t seem to go away, book an appointment with us at CSSM.

Graff-Radford S. Temporomandibular Disorders and Headache. Dental Clinics of North America. 2007;51(1):129-144.

TMJ Headache – Physio Works… [Internet]. Physioworks.com.au. 2020 [cited 8 September 2020]. Available from: https://physioworks.com.au/pain-injury/headache-migraine/tmj-headache-jaw-headache/

foothills. Common Jaw Exercises in the Treatment of TMJ Dysfunction | Foothills Orthopedic & Sport Therapy [Internet]. Foothills Orthopedic & Sport Therapy. 2020 [cited 8 September 2020]. Available from: https://www.foothillstherapy.com/2018/08/17/comm