Is it a really a Migraine Headache? The Answer May Surprise You


Headaches are so common most people think that having headaches is a normal part of living.  “Doesn’t everybody have headaches?”  No! Headaches are not normal and not everyone has headaches.  But they are so common millions of advertising dollars are spent each month competing for the public to buy their pain relieving pill instead of their competitors.  And thanks to this never ending onslaught of pain reliever ads, just about everyone thinks they have migraine headaches.  Instead of looking for the causes of pain, they promote,  “take our pill for your migraine.”

So, what’s really going on other than the drug companies want you to buy their product.

First of all, migraine headaches are very rare.  But the associated symptoms of a true migraine are very specific.  Sixty percent of people with migraine headaches state they get a feeling that the pain is about to begin before it actually starts.  These unusual feelings can include altered mood, irritability, depression or euphoria, fatigue, craving for certain foods, stiff muscles, especially in the neck, constipation or diarrhea and sensitivity to smells or noise. Additionally, people with migraines complain of visual disturbances associated with the headache like moving spots in their visual field or extreme intolerance to light.  This is the aura phase of the true migraine headaches and it is said to occur in 99% of cases.  These visual disturbances consist of a partial alteration in the field of vision flickers and may interfere with the person’s ability to read or function visually. Some patients lose parts of their field of vision and can see only part of what is in front of them.  Other common sensory symptoms with a true migraine headache are a feeling of pins and needles on one side in the hand and spreads to the nose and mouth area of the same side.  Numbness in the affected area will occur after the pins and needle feeling has passed.

The pain of a true migraine headache can be quite severe and last from one hour to several days.  Nausea occurs concurrently in almost all cases of migraine headache with about one third of the patients actually vomiting.

The cause for Migraine Headaches is unknown.

The symptoms associated with TMD (Temporomandibular Joint Disorders) on the other hand are very specific, but admittedly similar to some of the symptoms of true migraine headaches.  The symptoms of TMD are:

  1. Frequent of recurrent headaches with the associated pain always being located where the muscles of mastication are attached to the bone of the face and skull.
  2. Frequent or recurrent earaches. This can be unilateral or bilateral and frequently described by patients as a “deep earache”.
  3. Neck pain that occurs where the muscles that control head movement are connected to the skull and upper torso.
  4. Pain in the mandible, (jaw). This pain can radiate from above and is frequently confused with dental pain.  Many patients have actually had teeth extracted thinking that the pain was coming from the teeth.
  5. Tinnitus (ringing in the ear)
  6. Hearing problems frequently described and a feeling of fullness in the ear or talking inside of a drum
  7. Vertigo
  8. Shoulder or arm pain or tightness
  9. Arm/hand/finger tingling or numbness
  10. Inability to open the lower jaw fully or locking of the jaw

Many people who experience unexplained headaches, earaches, neck pain, jaw pain, vertigo or shoulder/arm pain do not realize that these symptoms are due to the inflammation in their JAW JOINT resulting in Temporomandibular Joint Disorders.

If you think your pain may be associated with TMJ Disorder, call my office today at 615-771-1983 to schedule a consultation in Franklin or Memphis, TN.

By Dr.Tony Urbanek

11892096_969100833131355_8374033213629088074_nDr. Anthony P. Urbanek is a double degree Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon. Dr. Urbanek received his dental degree from Indiana University and his medical degree from Vanderbilt University. Dr. Urbanek is board certified by the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and has served Williamson and Davidson counties for over 30 years.

He currently specializes in treating TMJ/TMD with his non-surgical patented TMJ splint and is also a specialist in Dental Implants and Wisdom Teeth Removal.