TMJ Headache

What is the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ)?

The TMJ is a complex hinge and gliding joint connecting the jaw to the skull, and consists of bones, ligaments, joint discs, and several muscles.

TMJ headachesWhat causes TMJ disorders?

Disorders of the TMJ can result from a variety of abnormalities in any of the component structures, including overactive muscles, poor jaw alignment, abnormal movement of the joint itself, and even teeth grinding.

What is a TMJ headache?

A primary consequence of TMJ dysfunction is jaw pain and headache involving the upper and middle cheek, as well as the side of the head. The source of the pain can be from hyperactivity of the jaw muscles or abnormal contact between bony surfaces (such as arthritis of the bones located within the joint).

Other symptoms of TMJ Headaches include:

  • Headaches and jaw pain
  • Lower jaw pain and headache
  • Tightness of the muscles of the jaw
  • Jaw clicking, popping or locking when you open your mouth
  • Headache with jaw clicking
  • Restricted jaw movement
  • Abnormal bite
  • Headaches from clenching teeth or clenching jaw at night


How are TMJ Headaches commonly treated?

There are several common non-surgical treatments for TMJ disorders causing headaches. These include dietary changes (limiting hard foods, avoid chewing gum), over the counter medications, and dental splints. Surgical options performed by some dental and oral surgeons include: TMJ repair (arthroplasty) or TMJ replacement, in an attempt to correct an underlying bony or joint abnormality.

What treatments for TMJ Headache are offered at the Institute for Advanced Reconstruction?

At the Institute for Advanced Reconstruction we specialize in neuromuscular treatments for TMJ Headaches, to address problems of the associated muscles or nerves contributing to TMJ dysfunction. These include image-guided nerve blocks and Botox® injections to the muscles around the TMJ for pain relief, and to reduce muscle hyperactivity. Although the use of Botox® for TMJ Headache is an off-label application, there is ample scientific evidence that it can provide significant relief to patients. For patients that temporarily benefit from one or more injection-based treatments, we offer a surgical procedure called TMJ Denervation.

During a TMJ Denervation procedure a small facelift-type incision is made near the ear, providing access to the TMJ. The nerves providing sensation to the TMJ that are being abnormally stimulated (and causing pain) are divided, potentially reducing or eliminating the pain signals. For some TMJ Denervation procedures, we may also perform fat grafting into the joint space as a source of regenerative cells. A TMJ Denervation procedure is performed as an outpatient procedure in approximately one to two hours.

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