Not all headaches are created equal. Some are a dull throb that seems to fill the whole skull, making a movement as simple as turning your head into an excruciating experience. Some are a stabbing pain right behind the eye, or at the temple. Some feel like they’re located right at the top of the head. But what does the location of your headache mean about its cause — and, more importantly, it’s solution?

Headache Location Can Reveal Cause

Sometimes a headache feels like it’s everywhere. But for the headaches that feel localized to a specific spot, that location can help you determine the cause, and subsequently, the solution.

For example, a headache that is centralized at the front of your head could be a tension headache, a sinus headache, a dehydration headache, or even an eyestrain headache. If you have a headache in the front of your head, it may be a good idea to down a glass of water, look away from your computer screen, or pop an allergy pill before you break out the big guns of pain relief. Headaches at the front of the head could also be migraines — although a migraine is usually more easily spotted by its side effects than by its location.

Alternatively, if your headache is centered on the top of your head, you might be suffering from a cough or exertion headache. Overexerting yourself through physical activity, such as running or sports, or even accidentally through passive exertion, such as sneezing or coughing, could trigger this kind of headache.

Headache Behind the Ear: Migraine or Not?

One headache that is often mistaken is the headache that appears behind the ear. While this is often diagnosed as a migraine due to its presence on one side of the head, there are a few other possible sources of this type of headache.

A headache behind the ear could be a result of occipital neuralgia, which is the injury or inflammation of the occipital nerve, which runs directly behind the ear. Or, it could be due to mastoiditis, which is the inflammation of the mastoid bone, directly behind the ear (this type of problem is much more common in children than adults.) Or it could be a result of TMJ.

The temporomandibular joint that links your jaw with the rest of your skull is located right beneath the ear. This means that an issue with the joint, such as TMJ, could manifest via symptoms in the jaw, symptoms in the ear, or even headaches. A misaligned temporomandibular joint can create tension all throughout the head and face, resulting in painful headaches.

Unfortunately, the misdiagnosis of these headaches could result in TMJ sufferers experiencing two major problems: First, treatments for their headaches are often ineffective, since those treatments don’t address the real source. And second, TMJ, if untreated, can grow worse and lead to further damage to the fragile and complex jaw joints.

If you think your headaches might be a result of TMJ, you need to speak to an experienced TMJ dentist. Call (803) 781-9090 or contact Smile Columbia Dentistry online to schedule an appointment right here in Columbia, South Carolina.