Migraines and Jaw Pain

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Woman with a migraineDo you suffer from frequent migraine headaches? Does chronic jaw pain keep you from eating and speaking comfortably? Your pain may result from a condition called Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, or TMD.

Researchers estimate that approximately 25 percent of the population suffers from TMJ disorder, but only about five percent actually seek help for the condition. The disorder seems to affect women more than men, affecting over 10 million people.

Doctors originally considered TMJ disorder a dental condition, referring patients to their dentist for help, but recent research has suggested that several factors may play a part in causing the condition. TMD can affect the temporomandibular joint and its parts, but may also affect the group of muscles that help the jaw work.

Doctors have yet to pinpoint an exact cause for TMD, but know that several health conditions may factor into its development. Dr. Richard Hada can perform an examination and diagnosis for TMJ disorder, recommending a course of treatment to alleviate your painful symptoms.

To learn more about TMJ disorder, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Hada, call our Mission Viejo, CA, dental office today at (949) 951-1067.

How TMD Can Affect You

The pain caused by TMD can range mild to severe, causing debilitating pain and keeping you from opening your mouth wide enough to eat or speak. Many TMD victims suffer from chronic migraine headaches that affect the quality of their life. They may spend days at a time in bed, suffering from intense pain.

In addition to the physical toll, the disorder can adversely affect other areas of life. Patients may miss work while trying to recover from migraine headaches, causing them to be passed over for promotions, or even leading to their termination.

The pain caused by TMJ disorder can affect relationships as well. Friends may stop calling a person who regularly cancels plans due to headaches. Patients may see family members become frustrated with their lack of participation in maintaining the home. Romantic relationships will suffer greatly when one partner is constantly in too much pain to go on dates or even give a simple kiss.

Factors That Cause TMD

In recent studies, researchers have found that a variety of factors may contribute to TMD. Once thought of as a purely dental condition, the majority of the blame for the disorder has traditionally fallen on malocclusion, a misalignment of the teeth. While this still factors into most cases, doctors have determined that other factors may play a large part as well.

The TMJ may suffer from the effects of arthritis. Patients suffering from osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, which affect the joints, may feel pain in the temporomandibular joint as well. Trauma or injury to the jawbone may affect the joint as well, contributing to the patient’s pain.

The muscles around the joint can play a part in the patient’s suffering as well. Overuse of the muscles in the jaw caused by bruxism, chronic grinding or clenching of the teeth, can lead to TMD. Muscle dysfunctions, such as myofascial trigger points may share some of the blame as well.

These trigger points are irritable areas of very tight muscle bands that may feel like a bump. They can result from surgery, bad posture, chronic stress, and disease. Trigger points, already painful on their own, can cause nerves to become trapped, causing even more pain for the patient.

Other conditions which may factor into the development of TMD include gout, infections, bone disease, and in rare occasions, tumors.

Researching TMD

Researchers continue to study TMJ disorder to try and determine exact causes of the disease and develop effective treatments for those who suffer from the pain the condition causes. Doctors regularly perform studies to understand the similarities between facial pain and the pain patients experience due to headaches and muscle pain, to determine if a link exists between them.

They conduct studies to understand the differences in how men and women feel and respond to pain, and continue to try to determine the factors that result in the chronic pain of the temporomandibular joint and its surrounding muscles.

Studies continue into the treatment of TMD as well. Doctors perform studies to discover how they can make the pain caused by TMD decrease with simple lifestyle changes. They study the effects of stress-inducing conditions, such as noise and temperature changes.

Research continues to determine what medications, or combinations of medications and other conservative treatments provide relief to patients suffering from TMD pain.

Advanced research has even begun to try and create human tissue in a laboratory that doctors can use to replace damaged tissue and cartilage in the temporomandibular joint. Doctors have also begun developing other lifelike materials that they can use to repair or replace the muscles and discs in the joint, and can even replace the entire joint, if necessary.

Call Us Today

Don’t let chronic jaw pain or migraine headaches ruin your quality of life. Make the call today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Hada, so he can determine if you suffer from TMD and recommend the most conservative treatment possible to alleviate your pain. Call our Mission Viejo, CA, dental office at (949) 951-1067 today.