We have long known that migraines could be impacted by a wide variety of triggers, but it was still surprising at just how strongly migraines were linked to lower back pain in a recent study. Although the study itself didn’t offer an explanation for the link, we might be able to: TMJ.


A Large Questionnaire on Migraine Risk

This study was an attempt to identify the role of environmental factors on the development of migraines, so it used the survey responses of around 13,500 Danish twins. Looking at twins can help minimize the impact of genetics–identical twins have the same DNA–and highlight the important role that environment can have.

None of the survey respondents had migraines in 1994 when they were given the first survey, but many of them had developed migraine by the time of the second survey in 2002. The researchers then looked at the survey responses–which included many different health and wellness variables–to try to figure out what factors influenced the development of migraines.

Among the factors they identified, having back pain at the time of the first survey had the strongest correlation, reflecting a 30% increase in risk. Interestingly, heavy physical activity, whether related to work or recreation also increased migraine risk. Heavy physical work increased risk by 10%, while heavy physical recreation increased risk by 20%.

TMJ, Work Efficiency, and Migraines

Most back pain is related to muscle strain, and even though it may not seem like, your jaw has an important role to play in preventing muscle strain.

Your jaw helps provide stability when you are performing physical tasks. When your jaw closes, it should provide a stable platform for your muscles to help support the head and neck. When your jaw is in balance, it’s easy for your spine to be straight, allowing all your muscles to work optimally. But when your jaw is off-balance, as often happens in TMJ, your spine can be off-balance, too, making it harder for you to perform physical labor, especially heavy lifting. You are more likely to find yourself in a position that leads to muscle strain.

But how, then, is migraine connected to TMJ? The strongest connection between TMJ and migraines is the trigeminal nerve. Since jaw muscles that are out of place, off-balance, or overworking are more likely to put pressure on the trigeminal nerve, one of the primary trigger points for migraines.

This could also explain some other links with migraine, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, and it helps us better understand the diverse impacts of TMJ on your whole body health.

If you are tired of living with migraines and other TMJ symptoms in Savannah, please call (912) 234-8282 for an appointment with a TMJ dentist at Beyond Exceptional Dentistry.