Has your doctor told you that your headaches are “cervicogenic”? This means that your headaches are being caused by neck problems. If that’s the case, you likely have TMJ, which may actually be the root cause of your neck pain and your headaches.
Identifying Cervicogenic Headache
Headaches are very nonspecific symptoms, and one of the biggest problems in diagnosing them is to distinguish among all the different possible causes of your headaches. With cervicogenic headaches, the main difference you probably notice is that your headaches seem to start in your neck. You can tell that these headaches tend to be on one side or the other.
There are three other symptoms you may or may not be able to identify for yourself. If you have a reduced range of motion of the spine in your neck, painful dysfunction of your upper neck joints, and less endurance in your neck muscles, then it’s pretty much certain that you have cervicogenic headaches. Just two out of three and the odds go down considerably.
Cervicogenic Headache and TMJ
Cervicogenic headaches are closely related to TMJ. A recent study showed that 44% of people with cervicogenic headaches also have TMJ.
TMJ can cause widespread disruptions to your skeletomuscular system, including to the muscles and bones of your neck. This can lead to putting additional stress on your neck muscles, reducing their endurance. It can displace your vertebrae, resulting in painful dysfunction and reduced range of motion.
Manual therapy, manipulating the muscles and bones of the neck, is often recommended for cervicogenic headaches. And, it turns out, if you have cervicogenic headaches, adding manual therapy of the TMJ to the equation will give you better results. But if TMJ is significantly advanced, or if it is caused by malocclusion, manual therapy will give only short-term relief.
In this case, dedicated TMJ treatment may be recommended to address the root cause of the problem and give long-term relief.