Headaches are one of the most common pain problems which plague mankind. There are many categories of headaches, many of which are caused by temporomandibular disorders, grinding or clenching of the teeth or other craniofacial pain disorders. Headaches are a very common condition. Most people will experience headaches many times during their lives. The main symptom of a headache is pain in your head or face. There are several types of headaches, and tension headaches are the most common. One of the major causes of tension headaches is grinding and/or clenching of the teeth. Such activities usually produce tension-type headaches, but tension-type headaches can be so painful and incapacitating that they are often misdiagnosed as migraine headaches. And to make the diagnosis of headache even more confusing is that grind and clenching of the teeth may produce both tension-type headaches and migraine headaches.
While most headaches aren’t dangerous or life threatening, certain types can be a sign of a serious underlying condition. That is why the proper diagnosis of headache pain must be determined and treated properly or the patient’s suffering and unfortunately, mismanagement of the headache might occur.
The International Society for the Study of Headaches recognizes that there are more than 150 types of headaches. They fall into two main categories: primary and secondary headaches.
Types of primary headaches include:
Many causes of primary headaches may be caused by:
Secondary headaches many signify an underlying and more serious cause such as:
Fortunately, according to neurologist internationally, primary headaches comprise 90 to 92% of all headache pain and a high percentage of primary headaches are caused by grind and clenching of the teeth.
Headaches which require immediate attention or care are:
Fortunately, most headaches are not a sign of a more sinister, underlying medical problem such as a stroke or intracranial bleeding. Most headaches are muscle contraction or tension-type headaches. And fortunate for everyone, most of these types of headaches are caused by grinding and/or clenching of the teeth, an internal problem in the TM joint, or injuries to associated structures to the TM joint such as the temporal tendon.
Because this type of headache may vary from mild to quite severe in intensity, often its sufferers are misdiagnosed as migraine, sinusitis or even psychogenic (imagined) pain. The TMJ headache is a Tension type of headache.
The pain of muscle contraction headache usually starts in the forehead, temples or back of the head and spreads over the neck and shoulders. Sleeping difficulties are common: waking without feeling rested, restlessness and trouble getting to sleep. Those who clench or grind their teeth also develop muscle contraction headaches, especially during times of stress or during the night. When asking a patient to describe his or her pain, I often hear such descriptions as, tightness, drawing, band-like, or vise-like. Muscle contraction pain may last for hours, days, weeks or even months. Lastly, as with all pain problems, if you persistently suffer with headache and your doctor can’t (or won’t!) give you a reasonable answer, get a second or even third opinion.
The good news is this: most of these headaches can be treated effectively by the use of various intra-oral appliances, all of which Dr. Shankland can provide. There’s no need to continue to live in constant or frequent headache pain when most of the time, the headaches can be treated. Contact Dr. Shankland’s office for more information about headaches or schedule a consultation with Dr. Shankland.