I RECENTLY WROTE AN ARTICLE ON TENSION HEADACHES AND RECEIVED A CALL FROM A PATIENT, SHERRY WHO WANTED TO KNOW IF HER HEADACHES COULD BE CAUSED TMJ EVEN I SHE HAD NOT JOINT SYMPTOMS OR JAW PAIN. SHE COMPLAINED THAT HER DOCTORS ACTED LIKE SHE WAS CRAZY WHEN SHE TOLD THEM HER BITE WAS CAUSING HER HEADACHES.
This is a very import and question. TMJ problems have been called The Great Imposter because they are so often misdiagnosed. Learn more about TMJ Disorders at www.thinkbetterlife.com the website for my Highland Park, Il office.
The real problem is the terminology. TMJ stands for TemporoMandibular Joint, this is a body part not a disease. You have shoulders, elbows wrists, hips knees and TMJoints. Because some people have clicking many people have decided it is not TMJ (TMD or Temporomandibular Dysfunction is a more accurate term) if there is not clicking.
Please clearly understand that there are many issues rlated to the jaws and jaw function that can cause diverse symptoms.
The joint itself can have arthritis just like any other joint in the body. There can also be Internal Derangements of the TMJoint. These are usually reciprocal clicks or locking. There can be arthritis and /or clicking and there may or may not be pain. All unstable joints are not painful and may never become painful.
There are also Neuromuscular Issues related to Jaw Function. It is usually the muscle fatigue, myalgia or myositis that create pain for patients. Muscle Pain is much more common than Joint Pain.
Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction is the most common type of muscle pain anywhere in the body. Muscle Pain probably accounts for over 90% of the pain anyone experiences. Myofascial Pain results from chronic misuse of muscles more commonly known as Repetitive Strain Injury. Muscles are the most accommodating tissue in the body and they will always adapt to protect the whole. When the bodies adaptive capacity is overwhelmed the result is MPD or Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction. This is almost identical to Fibromyalgia but is regional in nature rather than widespread.
There are common well known pain referral patterns for each muscle. The Jaw Muscles and the Neck and Shoulder muscles all cause referred pain to the head. When a patient complains of a headache or migraine there is almost always a large muscle component to their pain.
Yes, you can have TMD headaches without jaw pain or symptoms because MPD or Myofascial Pain is the single biggest cause of headaches. Ignorance of the importance of the musculoskeletal system and the important connections to the Trigeminal Nervous System is why you were told your headaches were not from TMJ. Poor understanding and poor definitions are the problem. Sherry, you are not crazy. You knew what you were feeling. Your muscles were suffering trying to find the proper place to function with your bite.