tired woman sitting in bed unable to sleepHeadaches can be very hard to treat. One of the biggest obstacles to successful headache treatment is pinpointing the cause, in part, that’s because headaches can be related to many potential conditions. If you talk to your doctor about your headaches, but the treatments they recommend aren’t helping, you should consider that your headaches might be related to two conditions that doctors often overlook: temporomandibular joint disorders (called TMJ or TMD) and sleep apnea.

If your doctor-recommended treatments aren’t giving you headache relief, let the Detroit headache dentists at the Michigan Head & Neck Institute evaluate your headaches for their connections to TMJ and sleep apnea.

Tension Headaches and TMJ

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. These headaches usually manifest as bands of dull, aching pain around the head. They can extend all the way around the head, and sometimes they will occur all up and down the back of your head, linked to pain in your neck.

Tension headaches are common in people with TMJ. The most common form of TMJ is often called myofascial pain disorder (MPD), when tense and overworked jaw muscles cause pain in muscles and related tissues in the head. The jaw muscles are the largest muscles in the head, and when they get sore, they can often cause tension headaches.

Stress and common stimulants like caffeine and nicotine can contribute to tension headaches in Detroit. Use common relaxation techniques to combat stress. Try to cut back on caffeine and nicotine if possible. These can help, but if your jaw is in an unbalanced condition, it will continue to cause headaches until the balance is restored. TMJ treatment can restore your jaw’s balance, reducing or eliminating regular tension headaches.

You’re more likely to get relief if you have other TMJ symptoms, such as:

  • Jaw pain
  • Neck pain
  • Popping or clicking in the jaw
  • Irregular jaw motion
  • Tooth wear, chipping, or cracking
  • Ringing in your ears
  • Dizziness or vertigo

When you have these symptoms along with headaches, TMJ treatment in Detroit can provide relief for them as well as your headaches.

Migraines, TMJ, and Sleep Apnea

Migraines are complicated headaches that we don’t fully understand. The pathway for migraines includes both your nerves and your blood vessels. Migraine diagnosis can be hard because migraines can be variable. However, migraines commonly cause intense, throbbing pain on one side of the head with related symptoms like:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Light sensitivity
  • Noise sensitivity

Migraine can also include what is called an “aura,” a type of mild visual or auditory hallucination that precedes your pain. Migraines last from two to 72 hours, and some people experience prodrome–symptoms that warn of an impending migraine–and/or postdrome–symptoms that last after your migraine technically ends.

Migraines can be related to both TMJ and sleep apnea.

TMJ commonly triggers migraines. A key location in the migraine trigger process is the trigeminal nerve. In addition to triggering migraines, this nerve controls your jaw muscles. When jaw imbalance overloads the trigeminal nerve, it can set off migraines. In addition, branches of the trigeminal nerve weave among the jaw muscles. Sometimes tense or displaced jaw muscles can pressure these nerves, setting off migraines. TMJ treatment in Detroit can reduce the pressure and overloads that trigger migraines.

Sleep apnea doesn’t necessarily cause migraines. However, sleep disruption is a common migraine trigger. Sleep apnea leads to nightly sleep disruption that can increase the frequency of your migraines. In fact, some studies show that people with migraine headaches and sleep apnea can see their migraine frequency drop by 90% with sleep apnea treatment. In addition, the average length of their migraines drops from 22 hours to just three hours. If you have chronic migraines that aren’t responding to treatment, it’s worth it to get tested for sleep apnea. Treating sleep apnea in Detroit might be a powerful tool in controlling  your migraines.

Morning Headaches, Sleep Apnea, and TMJ

Some people experience regular headaches when they wake up in the morning.

One common morning headache is the sleep apnea headache. People with sleep apnea often wake up in the morning with a headache, as well as feeling tired and unrested. The classic sleep apnea headache lasts half an hour to two hours, resolving on its own or with over-the-counter pain medication. However, it reoccurs every day or most days. Sleep apnea treatment in Detroit can reduce or eliminate sleep apnea headaches.

In addition to sleep apnea headaches, some people experience morning tension headaches. Sleep bruxism–clenching and grinding of teeth–causes sore muscles and tension in the head, including headaches. This might be related to stress, jaw imbalance, or even sleep apnea. Many people have both TMJ and sleep apnea. In these cases treating both can provide good headache relief.

Headache Relief in Detroit

If you experience common headaches, let the Detroit headache dentists at the Michigan Head & Neck Institute help. We can evaluate you for TMJ and/or sleep apnea to determine what might be causing your headaches. Then we can identify the treatment most likely to give you relief.

To find out if TMJ or sleep apnea treatment can improve your headaches, please call (586) 573-0438 or contact us online to request an appointment at the Michigan Head & Neck Institute in Warren, MI.