5 Best TMJ Headache Relief

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Dr. Garrett Stroup. Physical Therapist in Roseburg Area.


Dr. Garrett C. Stroup

DPT, VRC - Owner and Founder

We help athletes and active adults regain control of their injury without expensive surgeries or medications, so they can keep going.

Living with chronic headaches can be debilitating, especially when they are linked to temporomandibular joint (TMJ) issues. For those seeking professional assistance, TMJ physical therapy can play a crucial role in addressing these issues. In this blog, we will explore the world of TMJ headaches, understand their causes, and discover effective ways to manage and find TMJ headache relief.

What is a TMJ Headache?

TMJ headaches are a specific type of headache associated with dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint, a connection linking your jaw to your skull. When this joint disorder affects proper function, it can result in pain and discomfort in the head, often manifesting as headaches Reports indicate TMJ pain in 1 in 10 individuals, with almost half of the U.S. population experiencing temporomandibular disorders.

What causes a TMJ headache?

Understanding the specific triggers for TMJ headaches is crucial for effective management. Here’s a detailed list of activities and factors that can contribute to TMJ headaches:

  1. Teeth Grinding (Bruxism):
  • Grinding or clenching your teeth, particularly while sleeping can strain the jaw muscles and contribute to TMJ headaches, exacerbating headache pain.
  1. Jaw Misalignment:
  • Irregularities in the alignment of the jaw joint can lead to increased stress on the surrounding muscles, potentially resulting in headaches and jaw pain.
  1. Stress and Anxiety:
  1. Arthritis in the TMJ:
  • Inflammatory conditions like arthritis can impact the temporomandibular joint, leading to pain that may extend to the head, contributing to headache TMJ symptoms.
  1. Trauma or Injury:
  • Previous trauma or injury to the jaw joint can result in long-term issues, including chronic headaches.

Differences between TMJ and headaches

Differences between TMJ and headaches

Distinguishing between TMJ headaches and other types, such as migraine headaches, is crucial for accurate diagnosis and targeted treatment. Interestingly, a study revealed that 31% of the participants had their TMJ headaches mistakenly diagnosed as tension headaches. Here’s a breakdown of the key differences:

Location of Pain

TMJ Headaches: Pain is often concentrated around the temples, jaw, and ears. It may radiate to the neck and shoulders.

Other Headaches: Pain may be more generalized, covering various areas of the head, without a specific focus on the jaw.

Accompanying Symptoms

TMJ Headaches: Patients may experience a variety of symptoms, such as jaw clicking, popping, or stiffness when moving the jaw, which are indicative of disorder symptoms associated with TMJ headaches.

Other Headaches: Other headaches typically include sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, or visual disturbances.

Triggering Activities

TMJ Headaches: Activities such as chewing, talking, yawning, or tooth grinding may trigger or worsen TMJ headaches due to jaw movement, especially in individuals with misaligned teeth.

Other Headaches: Triggers may include stress, hormonal changes, certain foods, or environmental factors, with less emphasis on jaw-related activities.

Nature of Pain

TMJ Headaches: Pain is often described as a dull ache or a feeling of pressure, which are common symptoms and may be intermittent.

Other Headaches: Pain characteristics vary, including throbbing, stabbing, or constant pain, depending on the type of headache. This can encompass symptoms such as facial pain, often indicative of pain signals associated with TMJ headaches.

Response to Medications

TMJ Headaches: Over-the-counter pain relievers may offer relief, but addressing the underlying jaw issues is crucial for long-term management.

Other Headaches: ReResponse to medications varies; some headaches may be relieved with pain relievers, while others, linked to specific types, may require tailored medications, especially for addressing muscle pain.

Association with Sleep Patterns

TMJ Headaches: Bruxism (teeth grinding) during sleep can contribute to TMJ headaches, making symptoms prominent in the morning.

Other Headaches: Headaches may or may not be influenced by sleep patterns and may occur at any time of the day.

Duration of Symptoms

TMJ Headaches: Symptoms of temporomandibular disorders (TMD) may be chronic but can vary in intensity depending on various factors, potentially contributing to the occurrence of headache TMJ.

Other Headaches: Duration varies; some headaches are acute, lasting a few hours, while others may be chronic and persistent.

5 Ways to Manage TMJ Headaches

Understanding how to manage TMJ headaches effectively is essential for improving the quality of life. Fortunately, around 95% of TMJ disorders can be effectively addressed through straightforward self-management.

Before exploring specific strategies, it’s crucial to acknowledge individual variations, making consultation with a healthcare professional advisable for personalized guidance, especially when considering various treatment options for a reliable TMJ headache remedy.

Apply Jaw MassageGentle massaging of the jaw muscles can help alleviate tension, promote relaxation, and enhance range of motion. Applying warm compresses to the affected areas can also provide TMJ headache relief.

  1. Avoid Stressful Situations

Stress is a significant contributor to TMJ headaches. Practicing stress-reduction techniques through meditation, deep breathing or yoga can help manage stress levels.

  1. Exercise Your Jaw to Relieve TMJ Pain

Engaging in specific jaw movement exercises can enhance joint function, reduce pain, and alleviate headache TMJ. For added support, healthcare professionals or physical therapists may recommend personalized guidance, including using tools such as bite guards.

  1. Change Your Lifestyle to a Healthier One

Adopting a healthy lifestyle can positively impact TMJ headaches. This includes maintaining good posture, avoiding excessive gum chewing, and staying hydrated.

  1. Take Over-the-counter Medication

While non-prescription pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can effectively manage TMJ headache symptoms, consulting with a healthcare professional before long-term use is crucial.

Specialists Who Can Help: OrMobility Physical Therapy & Performance

Specialists Who Can Help: Oregon Mobile Physical Therapy

When it comes to finding comprehensive relief for TMJ headaches, seeking the expertise of professionals becomes paramount, and this is where OrMobility Physical Therapy & Performance stands out as a beacon of specialized care.

Why is professional help crucial in finding a reliable TMJ headache remedy?

Expertise in TMJ-Related Issues: OrMobility Physical Therapy & Performance specializes in addressing temporomandibular joint (TMJ) issues, ensuring that you receive care from professionals with a deep understanding of these conditions’ complexities.

Personalized and Targeted Care: The team at OrMobility Physical Therapy & Performance doesn’t believe in one-size-fits-all solutions. Each individual’s experience with TMJ headaches is unique, so the care provided is personalized to address specific needs and challenges.

Holistic Approach to Care: TMJ headaches often involve a combination of factors, from jaw misalignment to muscle tension. OrMobility Physical Therapy & Performance adopts a holistic approach, addressing not only the symptoms but also the underlying causes to promote lasting relief. Through personalized care, they develop a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to individual needs.



Finding relief from TMJ headaches involves a holistic approach that addresses the root causes. Incorporating lifestyle changes, seeking professional guidance, and adopting targeted therapies can significantly improve symptoms and enhance overall well-being.

Don’t hesitate to reach out and explore specialized care from OrMobility Physical Therapy & Performance that can make a significant difference in your TMJ headache management. Discover more about our services, including physical therapy in Roseburg, Oregon.


Q1: Can TMJ headaches be completely cured?

A1: TMJ headaches are frequently manageable with appropriate interventions, yet achieving a complete cure hinges on the individual’s unique condition and the specific underlying causes. The effectiveness of relief measures varies, emphasizing the importance of tailored approaches to address the diverse nature of TMJ-related concerns.

Q2: How can I prevent TMJ headaches?

Incorporating preventive measures is pivotal, encompassing stress management, maintaining optimal posture, avoiding excessive jaw movements, and seeking timely treatment for any identified jaw-related issues. These proactive steps play a crucial role in mitigating the occurrence and severity of TMJ-related concerns.

Q3: Is medication necessary for TMJ headache relief?

While over-the-counter pain relievers can provide temporary relief for TMJ symptoms, they are not a sustainable long-term solution. It is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional to determine a personalized and effective treatment plan tailored to address the underlying causes of your TMJ concerns.

For additional insights on TMJ headaches, you can explore resources provided by Sutherlin Physical Therapy.

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