Understanding chronic headaches and jaw pains

If you suffer from chronic pain, you know how devastating it can be. Your relationships, lifestyle, enjoyment in life, and even your career can be affected. When treatment is ineffective, or your doctor can’t even identify the problem, the frustration can become as bad as the pain.

Headaches are among the most commonly undiagnosed chronic pain issues. Some people have spent years visiting one physician after another, with no relief. They even report being told, “It’s all in your head.” Does this sound like your story? If you tell us that you are in pain, we will believe you. We know that pain is real, and it has a source. In many cases, that source is your jaws – and we can help.

Your jaw joint is known as a TMJ, which is an acronym for temporomandibular joint. It is a ball and socket joint, connecting your upper (maxilla) and lower (mandible) jawbones. In the middle is a cushioning disc, which allows smooth motion. A complex network of bones, muscles, nerves, and tendons connect your jaw to your head. Ideally, the entire system works together in harmony. When injury, dental problems, degenerative disease, or other factors disrupt the harmony, pain ensues. This condition is called temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD or TMJD).

One of the most common symptoms of TMD is headaches. They might be constant or recurrent, sharp or dull, severe or mild. Pain relievers may help, but rarely eliminate the pain. Other symptoms of this condition include:

  • Jaws “locking” open or closed
  • Popping, grinding, or clicking sounds when you open and close your mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Tinnitus (ringing in your ears)
  • Shoulder or upper back pain
  • Facial muscle fatigue or pain, especially in your jaws
  • Limited range of jaw motion
  • Changes in the way dental appliances fit
  • Changes in the way your teeth align when you close your mouth
  • Any pain that worsens when you chew or bite down

If you suffer from TMD, you may experience one, several, or all of the above symptoms. The good news is that TMD is treatable. Drastic measures, such are surgery, are rarely needed if the underlying bite problems are addressed. Dr. Lee Sheldon, of Solid BiteTM in Melbourne, FL, offers a variety of options to relive the pain so you can start living your life again! Call (321) 622-2402 and schedule an appointment today.

Lee N. Sheldon, DMD

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