Understanding and controlling migraine triggers is one of the most effective ways to reduce your migraine frequency. It lets you avoid migraine medication and the potential side effects of medication. Common triggers include foods, drinks, and smells. You might also have certain types of activities that can trigger your migraines.

But in some cases, the triggers might be hidden in your body, where it’s hard to see the link. For example, there are certain muscles in your head that can trigger migraines at key nerve sites. Some doctors will recommend surgical treatment to alleviate migraines caused by these trigger points, but in some cases we can get similar relief without surgery.

Man doing workout in a gym. Are his muscles causing migraines?

Muscle Sites Where Migraines Originate

Researchers looking at the interaction between muscle activity and migraines have found six migraine trigger sites where nerves get pressured by muscles, connective tissue, and blood vessels to trigger migraines.

  • Site I is where a part of the trigeminal nerve called the supraorbital nerve travel among the brow muscles over the eyes.
  • Site II is where the ZTBTN (zygomaticotemporal branch of the trigeminal nerve) passes through the temporal muscles.
  • Site III is linked to structures in the nose that can trigger migraines, especially when your nose is congested or infected.
  • Site IV is where the greater occipital nerve in the back of the head gets pressured by neck muscles and connective tissue from shoulder muscles.
  • Site V is irritation another branch of the trigeminal nerve, called the auriculotemporal nerve. This site is in the temple above the temporomandibular joint.
  • Site VI involves pressure on the lower occipital nerve by neck and shoulder muscles. It’s further down the neck.

While these aren’t the only places where muscles can cause migraine headaches. But these are the common targets for migraine surgery because they are the sites where people have the greatest consensus about their effectiveness.

Speaking of effectiveness, migraine surgery can be every effective for some people. Some studies show that perhaps 50-80% of people get significant, long-term reduction in migraines. And those results can last for a year.

In another study, perhaps a third of all migraine patients undergoing surgery saw complete elimination of migraines.

That seems like good results, but the drawback is that migraine surgery can be expensive, requires recovery time, and can come with significant risks, for potential gains that are by no means certain.

Before Trying Surgery

If you’re one of the people who looks at migraine surgery and takes pause, there are other options to try first.

One straightforward approach is BOTOX ® injections. BOTOX ® can relax the muscles around the nerves, resulting in less tension or pressure, and, therefore, fewer migraines. We offer BOTOX ® injections for migraine relief, and find that many patients get considerable benefit from it. The results are short-term, so injections have to be repeated every few months, but in that time, the results are good.  

Another option is TMJ treatment, which can be done without injections or surgery, and it’s a completely drug-free approach. Temporomandibular joint dysfunctions can cause irregular function in the jaw joints, leading to increased muscle tension in jaw and neck muscles, it can impact migraines triggered at sites II, IV, V, and VI–two thirds of the muscle sites targeted by surgery.

TMJ treatment is noninvasive and reversible. Most people get an oral splint that can hold their jaw in a healthy, relaxed position. This reduces muscle tension and therefore pressure on the migraine-triggering nerves. That can mean fewer migraines.

Looking for Migraine Treatment in River Edge?

If you’re looking for a nonsurgical migraine treatment option that might address the same migraine causes, you’ve come to the right place. At the River Edge Dental Center for TMJ, Sleep, & Reconstructive Dentistry, we offer a variety of approaches, including drug- and injection-free TMJ treatment. We will examine your jaw muscles to identify whether TMJ might be partly to blame for your migraines before recommending treatment.

To learn whether you are eligible for these migraine treatments, please call 201-546-8512 today for an appointment with a River Edge TMJ dentist.