Migraines are one of the most debilitating conditions you can suffer. With migraine attacks lasting as long as three days and some people experiencing fourteen or more attacks a month, people with migraines can find it difficult to maintain a job, maintain connections with family and friends, even to maintain a life. Unfortunately, migraine treatment is ineffective for many people. Nearly 70% of migraine sufferers are unhappy with their current migraine treatment, despite the fact that the average migraineur (person with migraines) has tried more than four treatment options, mostly medications.

senior man with a migraine headache

But most people with migraines haven’t tried TMJ treatment. Although TMJ is a jaw disorder, its effects can worsen, trigger, and even cause migraines. TMJ treatment can reduce the frequency and severity of migraines, without medication. This makes it an excellent standalone treatment as well as complementary to other migraine treatments. To learn whether TMJ treatment can help with your migraines, please call (248) 480-0085 today for an appointment with headache dentist Dr. Jeffrey S. Haddad at the Michigan Center for TMJ & Sleep Wellness.

Understanding Migraines

Migraine headache–often just migraines–tend to be associated with more severe pain as well as other symptoms. Many people experience aura with their migraines, a visual phenomenon such as lights or lines. In addition to pain, migraines often cause light and sound sensitivity.

Although migraines affect about 12% of Americans and represent one of the most debilitating conditions in the world, we still don’t truly understand them.

It seems that migraines are neurovascular headaches, caused by the release of vasodilators in the brain. These cause the blood vessels in the brain to expand, putting pressure on the brain, leading to pain and other symptoms.

But what triggers the release of these vasodilators? That’s where the mystery comes in. It seems that the release is triggered by the trigeminal nerve, the largest of the cranial nerves, when it becomes overwhelmed with sensations. But what causes the trigeminal nerve to become overwhelmed? There are likely many potential causes of overwhelming stimulation.

One potential cause is that the trigeminal nerve might receive pressure at some point in its path. The trigeminal nerve leaves the brainstem, winds past the temporomandibular joints, then spreads out to control jaw muscles and other facial muscles,winding in and around bones, blood vessels, and the muscles it controls. Any of these facial structures could put pressure on the trigeminal nerve.

Another possible cause of the overload is too much sensation from the muscles it controls or the tissues it monitors for pain signals. A tension headache can trigger a migraine. And a migraine might be triggered by overwork of muscles in the head, including jaw muscles.

Traditional Migraine Treatment

Traditional migraine treatment falls into many categories, but for most people, that means drugs. About 90% of migraine sufferers take one or more prescriptions for their migraines. Migraine treatments are divided into two categories: preventive and abortive.

Preventive migraine treatments are designed to help prevent the occurrence of migraines. The most popular preventive migraine treatment is topiramate, which has many side effects, including cognitive dysfunction, which may affect over 20% of people taking the drug. Antidepressants are also used as preventive migraine treatments. Amitriptyline is a common antidepressant used for migraine prevention. Its side effects are just as frequent, but less severe than topiramate, but include muscle spasms, seizures (rare), and fainting. The beta blocker propranolol is also used for migraine prevention, and it has relatively minor side effects, although it may affect your heart.

Abortive migraine medications are designed to stop migraines once they start. The most common abortive migraine medications are triptans, which can cause dizziness, fatigue, and may trigger other types of headaches.

Recently, BOTOX ® injections have been tried to help prevent migraines. By causing a flaccid paralysis in the jaw muscles, the treatment seeks to reduce interference with the trigeminal nerve. Although this is effective for some people, it can lead to atrophy of the muscles and bones.

TMJ Treatment Can Help Control Migraines

Many migraines are triggered by temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ). TMJ can trigger migraines because it causes jaw structures to put pressure on the trigeminal nerve or its branches. Overactivity in jaw muscles can overwhelm the trigeminal nerve with signals, or lead to additional pressure on the nerve.

By putting the jaw back in balance, TMJ treatment can restore a proper relationship between the joint structures and nerves, and it can reduce overactivity in the jaw muscles. Both of these will reduce pressure and stimuli in on the trigeminal nerve.

TMJ treatment doesn’t come with dangerous drug side effects, nor does it lead to atrophy in the muscles and bones of the jaw. The jaw is simply restored to healthy function, and, as a result, many people experience dramatic reduction in the frequency and severity of migraines.

To learn whether you can benefit from drug-free TMJ treatment for migraines in Detroit, please call (248) 480-0085 today for an appointment with headache dentist Dr. Haddad at the Michigan Center for TMJ & Sleep Wellness.