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The Trigeminal Vascular Reflex

Interactively View the Anatomy of the Trigeminal Nerve

Symptoms are derived from pressure applied to the laminar zone, which is a highly innervated and vascular area just posterior and superior to the head of the mandibular condyle.  These symptoms would generally not be thought of as being a dental problem by many health care professionals, which may in turn result in the TMJ dysfunction not being included in the differential diagnosis offered by some medical offices.
Headaches
  • Most commonly located around or behind the eyes.
  • May be located over the side of the head, on top of the head, on in the back of the head.
  • May feel like and be reported as sinus headaches.
  • May feel like and be reported as migraine headaches, including visual disturbances.
  • May be acute or chronic in nature and quite disabling.
  • Onsets vary.
  • Duration varies.
  • Frequency varies.
  • In other words, almost any headache of any nature may be a TMJ headache.
Neckaches
  • Usually occur right where the neck joins the skull in the back of the head.
  • May be quite severe in nature and very disabling.
  • Often described by the patient as a “tension headache”.
  • Pain often radiates from the neck to one or both shoulders.
Sore or Painful Muscles in the Head, Face, or Neck
  • Can be any muscle or muscle group, especially the muscles of mastication.
  • Most often tender at either the origin or insertion.
  • May be due to spasm.
Ear Pain
  • May be chronic or acute.
  • May be lancing or dull.
Ear Sounds
  • May be constant or intermittent.
  • May be described at ringing, buzzing, humming, or like listening to a sea shell.
  • Can become quite severe and produce pain.
Vertigo
  • Can be very severe and almost totally disabling.
  • May be chronic or intermittent in nature.
Poor Posture
  • Generally does not motivate patient to seek treatment, but is very noticeable.
  • Characterized by a “forward” head position.
Tingling in the fingers
  • Most common in the ring and little finger.
  • May be intermittent or chronic.
Shoulder Pain
  • May be unilateral or bilateral.
  • Most often occurs as a radiation of the neck pain.
  • Can affect one or both shoulders.
Photophobia (Sensitivity to Light)
  • Not a frequent symptom.
  • May be quite severe.
Stomach Pain
  • Often described as an ulcer-like symptom.
  • Usually intermittent in nature.
Low Back Pain
  • Occasionally quite severe and may in fact be the patient’s chief complaint.
  • Usually chronic in nature.