Could TMJ be related to headaches along with other pain?

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Ashiki
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2011
Total Posts : 4
   Posted Yesterday 11:55 AM (GMT -7)   
I just want to inform all of you that I am new here..and this may be a long message, but it has been bothering me for about 5 years now.

My jaw has always cracked when I was younger, but I was just so used to it that I did not feel any pain. I was and still am very healthy otherwise. I realized I had Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) my sophomore year of high school when I had yawned during a biology lecture and my jaw joint on the left side popped out of the socket, leaving my mouth stuck open for 5 straight minutes. I was scared, naturally, so I discussed it with my doctor when I went to my gyno appointment. She said I would have pain for the rest of my life and that surgery is not worth the cost (she mentioned something about tightening the ligaments on the left side of my jaw). She also mentioned that once you recognize you have this disorder it will get better..because you can do things such as eat softer foods to prevent tension. I took her advice..plus I can't stand the thought of my parents spending a lot of money on something that I could deal with for the rest of my life...the problem is it's becoming worse and more difficult to deal with.

I have had 4 occurrences where my jaw has popped out during high school and entering college, but I am now 19 and not having that issue. I do still have the constant cracking in my jaw (I have to crack/adjust it when I wake up each morning because of tension). I can't tell if it has gotten better or worse, because like I said, the popping out is more rare, but the pain is more frequent. What hurts the most is when people tell me that I should smile more because I have a beautiful smile...but the problem is when I have a wonderful day filled with laughter and smiles I end up having a day in which I am filled with the most pain in my face, jaw, and neck. The stiffness in my neck tends to worry me at times..because I will be ready for sleep, but then I get a strange tension and I become so scared that I will not be able to move my neck if I don't get out of bed. So I will sit up in bed and make sure I can move it properly...I tend to have nightmares about it as well. I was told that I don't grind my teeth at night..so wearing something at night is not going to change how I feel in the morning and throughout the day.

The only thing I could think of that is affecting it now more than ever is stress, but I am in college and everyone gets stressed. I am typing this in hopes for someone to provide me with any information that could be useful...because now in the past few days I have had unbearable headaches. I don't know if these headaches are caused from inflammation from my TMJ..if it's stress related..both, or what. When I wake up the headache will not be there (it may be faint), but then as the day progresses so does the headache. Today, the headache is not much of a headache but rather a sharp pain on my left eyebrow. When I touch it I can tell it's focused within just a small area. Could this be from TMJ? I do apologize for this is a lengthy post, but I tend to worry at times. Also, I am too scared to go to a doctor because my parents are very loving...but when it comes to money they tend to get frustrated. If they don't think something is needed then they tell me to suck it up...and so I have been sucking it up for the past 5 years. I just get scared that it could be something more because when we are young we think "I am healthy and strong and could never be affected by a disease or illness," but I am not ignorant...just hopeful that nothing would happen I guess.

Anyway, I really appreciate those of you that were able to read all of this, and I hope that someone can provide me with some insight..possibly even stress relievers..something. Thank you so much!

Best regards,

EvilFluorescents
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2011
Total Posts : 224
   Posted Yesterday 5:52 PM (GMT -7)   
I'm sorry to hear you're having a rough time. In a situation like this, if your parents are able, they need to help you out. Pain stinks, and the jaw sliding out of it's socket is not something to ignore.

Absolutely, it is extremely common for TMJ to exacerbate or precipitate migraine and headaches. I would strongly suggest that you consult with a Dentist who specializes in TMJ. Yes... there are dentists whose entire practices are centered around the treatment of TMJ. If you have difficulty locating one, I would find the nearest migraine clinic. Give them a call and they may be able to give you a good referall. Actually this is what I would do first (you want to find a reputable one).

Best of Luck!

health4
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2011
Total Posts : 4
   Posted Yesterday 10:36 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi Ashiki,
Sorry to hear about all that you're going through...I also have a stiff, crunching neck all the time, but unlike you, I do grind my teeth at night...and as a result of the two, and an odd pressure/pulsating sensation on the top right side of my head, I have headaches all the time, too...I wake up with them, even if they're slight, as you mentioned, but then as the day carries on, they get worse. I am now paying my own medical bills, but my father still always tells me to suck it up, as well...I was never diagnosed with TMJ, so I feel grateful...but like I said, the teeth grinding always helps lead to headaches almost every day, when I wake up, and my whole face feels tight, because I've been scrunching it up...I know that this isn't the entire reason for my symptoms, but I might want to try to get a new pillow soon, and definitely a new bed. I want to try to be less stressed out, but as you said, some stress is a given, no matter how you react to it...I want to have better posture, too, get on a better sleep schedule, and try not to let things get to me as much...but like you said, it's hard to avoid some stress, and stress alone shouldn't be enough to cause constant headaches...esp. because that definitely leads to more stress...I have tried opening and closing my jaw, trying to relax my face or neck, pressing or rotating certain areas, and taking ibuprofen...they don't usually help entirely at all, but sometimes hey make it a lot better...if I have a full-blown headache, I usually try to take something, but with the other tensed up, crunching spots, doing some of that usually helps...I have also been getting that pressure feeling for a couple of years, so that makes things worse/all day...anyway, I'm sorry for all this rambling, too...I hope that even though you have TMJ, that some of the things I said I do may help you, as well...along with reg. doc. (specialist appts.) visits, too...good luck, and hope to hear from ya soon!

EvilFluorescents
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2011
Total Posts : 224
   Posted Yesterday 11:09 PM (GMT -7)   
Health4,

Have you had a mouth guard made by your dentist? If not, this may be helpful.

Look up Bruxism. It sounds like this is a significant trigger for you. There are known risk/exacerbating factors, some of which you can eliminate.

Best of Luck!

Ashiki
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2011
Total Posts : 4
   Posted Today 10:57 AM (GMT -7)   
Health4,

Trust me, I do not mind the rambling at all :), sometimes it's really great to just get all of it out that is on your mind...and it's more rewarding when someone actually reads it all! Hehe. Also, I am glad you understand what I'm going through. I am glad you know that you do grind your teeth because there are things that can be done for that...like EvilFluorescents mentioned, there are mouth guards that can be made by a dentist that you wear at night so that it helps with the grinding. I'm not sure how they work, but I know someone that has used them and she does not wake up with headaches often.

You also bring up a good point about the pillow and bed...I'm living in a college dorm so I do not have much of a choice with the beds we are given. I used to think I was the type of person that could sleep anywhere..whether it was the floor or a nice, soft, fluffy bed, but I think I probably do need a bed that is made more to the level of comfort I need.

Anyway, definitely look into the mouth guard that you may be able to get because I'm sure it will help since you know you grind your teeth. I'm still too scared to go anywhere to get checked out because my parents are crazy when it comes to money...which is why I've just been trying to find ways to deal with stress as well. Sometimes it just feels impossible to get out of a stressful situation though...I really love to draw, so I like to draw to relieve tension, but the problem is it makes my neck more stiff because my jaw tends to hurt from leaning over...sometimes it feels like I can't do the things I enjoy the most :(...hence why I still have not finished my boyfriend's christmas present *sigh*.

EvilFluorescents,

I really wanted to thank you as well for taking the time to give me some advice..I definitely agree with everything you had to say, but it's still hard to follow through because of my parents + money. I can't wait for the day that I am out of college and will be a BSN nurse in a hospital...then I will have the money to really take care of myself, since sadly other people make me feel guilty about doing so.

Thanks again everyone!

Best regards,

health4
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2011
Total Posts : 4
   Posted Today 12:04 PM (GMT -7)   
EvilFluorescents,

No, I have never had a mouth guard made by my dentist, or even worn a generic one. And I looked up some info. on Bruxism...and just really need to try to reduce stress, and wear a mouth guard...but although the mouth guard would prevent wear on my teeth, it wouldn't prevent the crunching and tightness of my face and jaw, and headaches...so I'm just going to really really try to not worry about things as much...I can't avoid stress, but I can find relieving, calm measures to take to respond to it, and not worry about what's out of my control...
I had always heard that teeth grinding could be caused by stress, but now that I know that they actually have a medical term for it, and I've briefed over the treatment options, I realized that just saying I'll avoid stress isn't something I can keep putting on the back burner...that maybe it's the cause of daily headaches, but maybe not...it is, and I'm going to try to make that my utmost priority...when reading about it, I was surprised to hear that it can even lead to ear infections, even if you have no problems with your ear itself.
As I said above, this pain I've been getting for the past two and a half years in the top right side of my head is the thing that's been bothering me most...I could deal with the crunching jaw and tight feeling face, but after reading what you said, and researching that (and reading about ear infections, as well...since a year ago, the pain was accompanied by a sharp pain in my ear, and tender throat on that side, etc.), it might ALL be related...I'm stressed out, which is the major cause for grinding my teeth more than ever before, and that's leading to tons of aches in my face, jaw, and top of my head, and sometimes major headaches...and those things lead to more stress, which leads to more grinding, etc., etc...I know this was a long, drawn out response to what you'd said, and teeth grinding may not seem so enlightening, but I have so much more of a positive outlook on this WHOLE thing, because of what you've said, and the research I'd done because of it...thank you so much, EvilFluorescents!

health4
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2011
Total Posts : 4
   Posted Today 6:42 PM (GMT -7)   
Ashiki,

Thanks. It IS nice to just get out all that is on your mind sometimes...esp. if someone actually listens to/reads it all...and don't worry, I read all of yours, too, haha...otherwise, what's the point. if someone's gonna reply after choppily skimming over something? Yeah, I'm gonna try to get a mouth guard from a drug store, and then eventually get one fitted from my dentist...I know they help prevent against wearing your teeth down, but obviously can't make someone not clench their jaw...but the reduction in stress--or not worrying about it--will do that...
And yeah, I used to dorm, and it's too bad that the beds aren't always that great. My bed in college was actually a lot better than my one at home, though, haha...so I was happy, but I'm back at home for now, in that same bed again...and it's been worse ever since I've been sleeping in it again, and cuz of other major stresses back at home...but I really think that it'll be a lot better than it is now, once I'm on my own real soon...and yeah, I always used to think that i was the kind of person who could sleep anywhere, too, lol! Even if it was in a sleeping bag on the floor! But there's nothing wrong with not being able to...it'd be better to have it not effect us in a bad way, but it's ok, I guess...
Yeah, I've been having a lot of medical problems lately, but have been putting off specialist appts., and tests, due to the cost...now that I pay for it by myself...I mean, I had been paying for most of my medical costs for the longest time anyway, but now I pay for everything entirely...and I really like to draw, too! I always have...except, kind of like you, it makes it worse, because the leaning over makes my neck hurt a lot more than usual, and that alway leads to a headache...like right now, just because I've been trying to catch up on stuff on my computer for a while...
And about what you said to EvilFluorescents, that's great that you want to get your bachelor's, and become a nurse. Are you near any major hospitals? And yeah, my Dad always tries to say and do (or not do things) to make me feel guilty, too...including with everything medical...but don't worry...I know it gets hard to keep looking up, when you have medical probs., and can't pay for everything, and then your parents make you feel guilty...but, even though it's hard to actually not let stress get to you (opposed to just saying it), esp. when dealing with medical problems (and barely being able to pay for them, cuz you're in college...but still have to do it yourself), just try to hold out...cuz it'll most likely get better...and like I said, that's really nice that you want to be a nurse...helping others...hopefully, you'll get the amount of help/relief you need really soon! Thanks, and good luck!

Ashiki
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2011
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 2/23/2011 10:20 AM (GMT -7)   
Hey Health4,

I really hope things begin to look up for you :). Thank you again for your reply. I think everything you mentioned in your post to evilfluorescents is what I need to be thinking about and doing as well...with the whole stress situation. I need to find stress relief in things that don't cause me to have aching pain...because then I just get more stressed haha. I don't think it helps that my co-op job for training is in an office setting right now so I'm constantly on the phone with international patients as well as on the computer setting up appointments and such. The only time I really move is during lunch and when I am copying papers :(. I am excited that I will be starting clinical in the spring/summer terms of college. I will finally be in a hospital setting and constantly on my feet (I hope)! I'm not from Philadelphia, but I do live in PA, but here in Philly there are plenty of great hospitals, like CHOP(my bf's brother works there as well as his mom), Jefferson, Temple, UPenn, etc. I'm not sure if I want to stay in the city though because the city tends to stress me out..I love nature too much. However, it is a tough choice because there's a variety of hospitals here and a lot are in walking distance. I guess I will find out eventually what I want to do..I still have around 3 or so years to decide :).

Best regards,

EvilFluorescents
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2011
Total Posts : 224
   Posted 2/23/2011 11:14 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi Health4,

Yeah, stress can be terrible for the Bruxism. I recall hearing other things like drinking a lot of caffeine and smoking can take it toll as well. So if you're into any of these, cutting these out can help. I have Bruxism and use a hard mouthguard made by my dentist. It has helped a lot.

I find that mindfulness meditation really helps me with my stress. Check into it. It takes practice, but it is incredibly relaxing. My friends swear by yoga and/or heavy cardio exercises.


Hi Ashiki,

Yeah, that's rough. I know I feel terrible asking the parentals for help when I need it. I'm lucky, they don't make me feels too bad (I usually do that to myself).

It may be worth calling up or emailing Jefferson Headache Clinic and asking if they can recommend a good TMJ specialist dentist. If I were in your shoes, I would email the dentist. Explain that you're a student and can't afford treatment for a few years, but would like to know if there are any inexpensive preventative measures you can take in the meantime. Maybe sprinkle in that Jefferson recommended them and that you expect to use them as your TMJ specialist in the future. Who knows, you may get more out of it than you were expecting.

Best of luck!

tmjpain
Veteran Member


Date Joined Oct 2008
Total Posts : 2024
   Posted 2/24/2011 5:54 AM (GMT -7)   

Hi. As you can see by my username I have a tmj disorder. I have had constant headaches for the most part of the last ten years. My headaches are bilateral temporal and feel like a pressure sensation. I have become disabled because of these headaches and have not been able to work for the last two and a half years. I too am a nurse. I did a lot of reading on the internet. Definitely don't get one of the mouthguards that you just buy in the store. Find a tmj trained dentist/orthodontist. Try massage, acupuncture, chiropractic, a head, neck and jaw therapist. Those are just a few of the treatments i have tried over the last ten years. You can talk to your doctor about medications.

I wish you all the best and hope some form of treatment might help you. My road has been a very long one and most painful unfortunately.

 


SUZANE

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