Ask the Expert: Migraines Caused by TMJ?

Dr. Mark Borigini Health Guide
  • Dear Dr. Borigini,

    Is TMJD (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder) often associated with migraines?  I have had chronic classical migraines since Feb. 2004 due to my jaw dislocation.

    Patients suffering from temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders exhibit significantly more jaw dysfunction and pericranial muscle tenderness compared to migraine patients.  Jaw pain that occurs with chewing often is considered to be TMJ dysfunction, particularly if subluxation (abnormality of the normal position of a joint) of the jaw can be shown on the physical examination.

    The cause of migraines is unknown; there may be some genetic influence.  Regional alterations in blood flow in the brain due to dilation of the arteries in the brain accompany a migraine attack.
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    Migraines can be on one side of the head, or they can be generalized.  They may be preceded by visual changes, numbness or tingling, restlessness, or depression.  The patient may have attacks daily, or every several months.

    It would appear that the pain of a migraine headache and pain due to a TMJ disorder are different creatures.  I would not think that the TMJ disorder caused a migraine disorder to develop; if you do suffer from migraine headaches, I would assume that this was coincidental.  That being said, it is of course entirely possible that that the pain of a TMJ disorder might indeed be responsible for triggering a migraine.

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    We hope you find this general medical and health information useful, but this Q&A is meant to support not replace the professional medical advice you receive from your doctor.  For all personal medical and health matters, including decisions about diagnoses, medications and other treatment options, you should always consult your doctor. See full Disclaimer.

Published On: March 26, 2007