The exact causes of migraines remains somewhat mysterious, but we are coming to understand that the muscles and nerves of the face play an important role in migraine attacks. Chiefly, this is because jaw muscles are putting pressure on the branches of the trigeminal nerve, leading to overstimulation that sets off migraines.
To try to counter the involvement of these muscles and nerves, many treatments can be used. Unfortunately, many of the medical treatments offered involve deadening nerves and muscles, which can have side effects.
Instead, we offer treatments that stops this link without the use of anesthesia or other drugs to deaden nerves and muscles.
One of the newer types of treatment for migraines is called SPG (sphenopalatine ganglion) block. In an SPG block, doctors use a flexible catheter to squirt anesthesia up your nose. Treatment are repeated twice a week for six weeks. The SPG links to several branches of the trigeminal nerve. The theory is that deadening this nerve cuts off some of the overstimulation of the trigeminal nerve that can lead to migraines.
It may then take another two weeks before you see the results of treatment, but when you do see the results, they could be great. Some people experience 17 fewer migraine days per month.
SPG has a good track record so far, but it hasn’t been used for very long, so we don’t know its long-term effects.
And it does have some limitations. It is cutting off the sensations from nerves under pressure, but it doesn’t take the nerve out from under pressure. When the effects of the treatment wear off, the pressure will become evident again, and migraines can return.
SPG block also doesn’t eliminate other symptoms that may be linked to migraines. People with TMJ who have migraines may also experience neck pain, jaw pain, back pain, and earaches. These may not have been noticed or may have been disregarded because the headaches were more intense. Without the headaches, these symptoms may be more noticeable.
SPG also won’t do anything to protect against progressive damage related to TMJ. Damage to the jaw joint the teeth can still result, causing the condition to worsen, even if one of the main symptoms is gone.
Botulinum toxin injections
Another potential treatment for migraines related to jaw joint problems is to use botulinum toxin (sold as BOTOX ® and other brands) to create a flaccid paralysis in the jaw muscles. By making these muscles relax, the injections reduce pressure on the nerves and alleviate migraines.
As with an SPG block, this can be effective, but there are questions about long-term side effects. Numbing the jaw muscles can cause the loss of bone in the jaw and other anchor points for the muscles. That’s because muscles and bones have a symbiotic relationship. Stimulation from the jaw muscles causes the bones to grow and maintain density. When the stimulation is gone, the bones lose volume.
You Don’t Have to Be Numb to Be Comfortable
But there is good news: there are migraine treatments that don’t require you to be numb. If your jaw muscles are putting pressure on or otherwise stressing your trigeminal nerve, TMJ treatment can relieve your headaches. By alleviating muscle tension and putting your jaw in the proper position, TMJ treatment can reduce stress on the trigeminal nerve, preventing migraines.
As a result, people who get TMJ treatment can see a reduction or elimination of migraines without any injections.
If you want to learn whether TMJ treatment can help your migraines in Fairfax or Burke, VA, please call 703-323-8200 today for an appointment with TMJ dentist Dr. Pamela Marzban.