What is a migraine?

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We all know what a headache is, we all suffer from them every once in a while.

However, what about the worse alternative, migraines? A migraine can cause pulsing sensations or severe throbbing pain usually on one side of the head.

Migraines can last for hours or even days, and unlike headaches, migraines are debilitating and interfere with daily activities.

Some patients can be diagnosed as chronic migraine sufferers, which means they suffer from headaches for at least 15 days a month, with at least eight being migraine attacks.

Migraines and TMD/TMJ disorder

At TMJ Centre Melbourne, we know that migraine headaches can be caused by different reasons.

Some patients look for answers without success and many times GP’s do not even consider dysfunctions of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), this joint is responsible for connecting the jawbone to the skull. TMJ syndrome should never be skipped over, as it may very well be a patient’s reason for suffering from constant headaches or migraines.

These TMJ related migraine headaches can trigger due to the activation of the trigeminovascular system (TGVS) which consists of the trigeminal nerve. This nerve is the most complex of the 12 cranial nerves and is responsible for sensations in the face; including the jaw, gums, around the eyes, cranium and facial muscles.

Nerves that supply sensation to other areas of the body, including the back, neck and internal organs are also connected to the trigeminal nerve before being processing to the brain.

This means pain caused by temporomandibular joint dysfunction or other areas of the body which connect to the trigeminal nerve may cause activations of the TGVS, which can result in more frequent migraines.

Further, one of our recent blogs at TMJ Centre Melbourne specifically focused on the link between TMD and migraine headaches. The blog included a case study, which saw a sample of patients suffering from headaches put under a neurological and TMD assessment.

The study revealed that 70% of the sample patients suffering from headaches, also had clinical confirmation of TMD, which significantly increased the head pain levels felt by the patients. The issue is that joint pain seems to make headaches worse, while headaches are associated with muscular pain.

You can already guess what happens. The clenching and pressure from TMD cause joint pain, which increases the severity of headaches which causes muscular pain.

If you would like to read the blog and case study, click here.

Symptoms of migraines

Migraines progress through four stages usually, the Prodrome, Aura, Attack and Post-drome stages.

Prodrome stage

Usually occurs one to two days prior to having a migraine.

Signs can include:

  • Neck stiffness
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Mood changes
  • Food cravings
  • Frequent yawning
  • Thirst and urination
  • Constipation

Aura stage

Aura’s can occur before or during a migraine attack and usually include visual signs. The symptoms gradually begin and build up over minutes and last around 20 minutes to an hour.

Signs can include:

  • Vision loss
  • Visual phenomena (seeing shapes, spots or flashes)
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Hearing noises
  • Uncontrollable movements
  • Pins and needles sensations in arms or legs
  • Weakness or numbness (face or side of body)

Attack stage

Generally, patients suffer from migraines lasting from four to 72 hours. Regularity and severity of migraines is different per patient.

Signs can include:

  • Throbbing or pulsing pain
  • Pain usually on one side of the head
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Light and sound sensitivity
  • Sometimes smell and touch sensitivity

Post-drome stage

Post migraine attacks, patients usually feel drained, confused and drowsy for around a day. There may also be slight pain inside the head briefly on movements.

Think you suffer from TMJ migraines?

If you suffer from headaches or migraines and suspect you suffer from TMJ issues, then our team at TMJ Centre Melbourne may be able to help you. Our experienced team has helped patients with debilitating migraines improve their quality of life and decrease the suffering effects of migraines related to TMJ through our treatment options we offer.

If you would like to find out about our treatment options, information on migraines or TMJ dysfunction, or to book in for an appointment, please contact us here.