TMJ Headache: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments, Exercises, Location

When someone gets a headache, people may not believe it’s because of the jaw. However, the TMJ headache (temporomandibular joint) could be blamed. TMJ refers to the hinge that links your jaw to the skull. It helps you communicate, giggle, and eat while also allowing your jaw to glide upward and downwards and side to side. 

This joint is a little more complex than other joints in the body because of the hinge and gliding movements, and it can induce a range of complaints, including headaches if something is wrong. Even so, there are notable distinctions between TMJ headaches and tension headaches. If you can precisely identify the type of headache you’re having, you’ll be able to discover the proper treatment before the pain becomes unbearable.

Millions of people suffer from a recognizable discomfort radiating from their heads and neck. This is generally preceded by jaw rigidity. Because of the similarities of the sensations, Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) pain is sometimes misdiagnosed as a regular headache.

What is a TMJ headache?

TMJ headache, also known as Temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ), is explained as head discomfort induced by stiffening the jaw muscles, which then spreads to the TMJ muscles across the sides of your cheekbones ultimately hitting the top of your head, resulting in a TMJ headache. 

TMJ is a joint that connects your jaw to your skull and holds it in place. TMJ muscles can be found in several areas of your face, including your cheeks, jaws, and head. It can be challenging to connect a TMJ headache and a regular headache. TMJ problem is caused when any muscles are stiff, resulting in a terrible headache. 

TMJ headache location

TMJ headaches are characterized by sensations in the cheeks, ears, jaw, other regions of the face, and the front of the head. Most headaches only impact the top of the head. TMJ headaches can also result in considerable pain and stiffness in the neck and shoulders. 

Since the swelling and aggravation in the temporomandibular joint spreads to adjacent muscle and ligament tissues in the jaw regions, TMJ disorders induce headaches. Muscles are tense and irritated as it progresses, resulting in spasm. This causes headaches in the skull, face, and possibly neck areas. TMJ issues can induce headaches due to an imbalance in the jaw posture. This causes joint and muscle stress, which can lead to tension headaches.

Significant TMJ causes headaches:

The temporomandibular joint is a movable joint with a hinge action. The connection is cushioned by a disc, which allows the jaw to move, slide, relax, and expand. Pain might be caused by the muscles that encircle the joints, the disc that cushions it, or the joint itself.

TMJ pain is frequently only short. It manifests itself as flare-ups that go away and then reappear in some circumstances. TMJ pain can be chronic and worsen with time. The following are the main prevalent origins of pain:

  • A joint that has dislocated
  • Teeth and jaw coordination concerns
  • Arthritis
  • Muscular Tenseness
  • Tightening or Chipping of teeth
  • Severe Harm
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Surgeries on the teeth
  • Infestations

Hereditary, behavioral, or ecologic factors may also have a role. Violinists, for example, have indeed been found to have a greater risk of TMJ issues than the average public because their employer requires them to maintain an instrument beneath their jaw. This can develop TMJ headache issues as a result of the strain.

Because it has been discovered that women are more likely than men to suffer from TMJ issues, experts are actively investigating the hormonal reasons for TMJ. Whereas the exact explanation is unknown, experts hope to learn more about the connection between the female hormone estrogen and TMJ issues.

TMJ headache symptoms:

Although there are several particular headaches, TMJ headaches are commonly associated with additional symptoms. These can encompass the following:

Severe Pain

The pain felt while flexing the jaw is the first prominent sign of a TMJ condition. Headaches or migraines, neck discomfort or backache, and earaches or pain surrounding the ear that radiates to the cheeks are all possible signs of TMJ problems. Before identifying a TMJ condition, a doctor may typically seek additional symptoms if the discomfort is not near the jaw.

Creaky Sounds

TMJ issues are not usually accompanied by noises made while opening the jaw. Jaw noises are pretty standard. The strange cracking, snapping, or crunching sounds that might appear during chewing, conversing, or merely expanding the mouth are frequent but typically mild symptoms. 

Whenever the sounds are accompanied by pain or limited jaw mobility, you may seek medical help. Earaches can be accompanied by humming, throbbing, or numbness in the ears, and these symptoms are linked to TMJ issues.

Movements are limited

The limited movement that stops the mouth from fully opening or the jaw from moving in specific directions can cause severe irritation in ordinary life.

What does a TMJ  headache Senses Like?

The feeling is worst with TMJ, which is a tight, dull, painful headache. It is usually found on one side, however, it can sometimes be found on both sides. It is usually worst on the part where the TMJ is the better. Jaw movement aggravates the headache, which is relieved by jaw relaxation. 

When Tmj Headache is poorly treated at an opportune moment, it becomes progressively worse. The agony is excruciating, causing suffering throughout the body. Day by day, the intensity of pain increases. One may not be able to dine or converse with others adequately.

TMJ Sinus Headache

The temporomandibular joint is among the human body’s most complicated joints, situated right in front of your ear. Ligaments, bones, discs, and muscles all work together to enable you to open and close your mouth. Numerous sinus cavities can be found beneath the eyes, around the eyes, deep into the skull, and within the maxilla, which forms the cheek and upper jaw, on your face. 

Because the sinuses are essentially integrated into the jaw, it can be difficult to distinguish between TMJ pain and sinus infection pain. Sinus TMJ headaches are terrible, but they aren’t usually caused by gripping and pressing teeth (also known as bruxism). On the other hand, TMJ can trigger teeth gripping or clenching at night as your jaws try to correct themselves.

Effective Treatments of TMJ Headache:

If you suspect TMJ dysfunction, you must see your dentist right once. They’ll be able to figure out what’s wrong. TMJ headache treatment can be done in a variety of ways, as mentioned below:

Medical Treatment

Based on your situation, your doctor may recommend a powerful drug. They may also recommend that you use a bite guard (mouthguard). Clenching and grinding of the teeth is a significant sign of TMJ headaches. A bite guard helps preserve your teeth from the harm that clenching can cause. However, medicines and bite guards are not a long-term solution for TMJ disease.

If you are not attentive and undertake the required precautions, the condition can revert. Steroid shots may be indicated in instances where TMJ issues are induced by degenerative illnesses like osteoarthritis. The steroid will assist to reduce inflammation, discomfort, as well as other signs by being injected directly into the joint.

In less than a week, many people report a significant reduction in discomfort. In certain circumstances, an injection can completely alleviate the symptoms of TMJ issues, while in others, it can only help temporarily.

Compensation In Routine Work

For several circumstances, TMJ issues can be effectively treated at leisure. Self-care and an adjustment in living may be sufficient to manage mild-to-moderate symptoms. Minimizing jaw mobility is one of the suggested self-care procedures. Whenever relaxation is advised, it may include the following:

  • Chewing gum should be avoided
  • Primarily consuming softer foods
  • Minimizing jaw tightening or stiffening

A healthcare practitioner can recommend the best practices and other lifestyle adjustments to help with TMJ problems. Rest and mild exercise may be recommended in conjunction. Gentle activities, such as gently expanding the jaw, may, on the other hand, be advised. It may also be helpful to massage the afflicted muscles around the jaw. Using cold or wet warmth to the affected area can assist in alleviating symptoms.

Operative Procedures

Additionally, most comprehensive treatments include orthodontics and other dental work to modify your bite permanently. Neither of these treatments, though, is booming. When selecting a long-term treatment for TMJ headaches, proceed with caution. 

Because neither medicine nor dentistry offers board certification in TMJ diseases, finding a doctor familiar with and experienced in treating TMJ pain and headache might be difficult. Another alternative is to talk with a doctor at a hospital or university-affiliated pain clinic. This could be very useful in determining the source of TMJ pain.

Also Read: 15 Best Teas For Headaches Relief!

TMJ Headache Relief Exercises:

TMJ pain can be relieved with a couple of easy exercises. Individuals may start by rubbing the sore region softly. This may aid in the reduction of stress and discomfort. This also enables things simpler to strengthen the joint and surrounding muscles.

Exercising for strength

It’s advisable to do strengthening activities amongst TMJ flare-ups. They can exacerbate pain in situations of extreme discomfort. Here are two exercises to help you improve your muscles:

  • Put your thumb beneath your chin and press your chin on it. Proceed to open your mouth with a modest amount of power with your thumb, then maintain it wide for 5 to 10 seconds. 
  • Extend your jaw as far as you can easily. Place your index finger across your bottom lip and chin. Against the pressure, pull inwards while lowering your mouth.

Relaxation techniques

Tension-producing stress is a common cause of TMJ pain. Simple relaxing techniques can be beneficial. Below are two exercises to help you relax:

  • Breathe gently, enabling your stomach to grow instead of your chest. Slowly exhale, keeping your exhalation about the same length as your inhalation—rep 5–10 times more.
  • Tense and release tension from each muscle in your body while resting or sleeping in a comfortable, supported position. Start with your feet and move gradually up to the top of your head.
  • This second exercise is a gradual relaxation technique designed to assist people are becoming more conscious of regions where they are tense. It might also teach them how to release that tension intentionally.

Goldfish Exercise (Half Opening)

Position your finger just on the base of the ear, the area your TMJ resides, and the other over the top of your mouth. Rest your chin on the middle or pointer finger of your right hand. Drop your jaw halfway, then snap it shut. Substantial resistance must be present, and it should not be uncomfortable. A variation of this technique is to place one finger upon every TMJ while lowering your lower jaw halfway and then closing it likewise. Do this exercise for six duration in one set. Each day, one group must be completed six times.

Goldfish Exercise (whole Opening)

Set one finger on the TMJ and another on the chin while keeping your tongue on the roof of your mouth. Bring the descending jaw to its genuine position. Place one finger on separately TMJ while you reduce your descending jaw and back for a variant of this exercise. To finish the one pack, recount this exercise six times. One group of six should be completed.

Side-to-side And Forward Jaw Movement

Place a 1/4-inch object among your front teeth, such as stacking tongue depressors, and gently lift your jaw from side to side. Raise the thickness of the piece within your teeth as the exercise develops simpler by stacking them one on top of the other.

Bring your lower jaw forward, putting your bottom teeth in front of your top teeth. In between your front teeth, place a 1/4-inch item. Increase the object’s thickness between your teeth as the practice becomes easier.


TMJ dysfunction can produce TMJ headaches, which, if not treated promptly, might jeopardize your general health. As a result, it’s critical to have the appropriate diagnosis to give the proper medication for TMJ headache alleviation. TMJ headaches are usually not severe and go away after a few months. The symptoms are generally modest and cause only minor annoyance. On the other hand, TMJ issues can be significant and long-lasting in some circumstances. When an illness harms one’s quality of life, it is critical to seek diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible to handle or cure the problem.

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