There are common headaches, uncommon headaches, and then there are some very strange kinds of headaches. Nummular headache is one of the latter, and it’s so rare that we haven’t found a good treatment for it yet.
Diagnosing Nummular Headache
The nummular headache gets its name from the Latin nummus, “coin.” It is a rare type of headache characterized by pain in a region that resembles a coin: a small circular or elliptical region that ranges from 2-6 cm in diameter. The pain isn’t as severe as some types of headaches, but it’s chronic. Sometimes you may experience continuous pain with intermittent episodes of more intense, piercing pain. You may also experience tingling, sensitivity to touch, and just strange feelings in the area where the pain is. The headaches may go away for months at a time, but they tend to return.
Nummular headaches always recur in the same place, but sometimes it may be accompanied by migraine headaches that affect different regions.
Nummular headache is currently explained as the effect of an injury to the trigeminal nerve.
Treating Nummular Headache
Because nummular headache is very rare, it’s hard to find ways to test treatments for it. Studies of treatments have been very small, and ineffective. One study looked at 16 patients with nummular headaches and tried surgical interventions as well as half a dozen different medications. These medications were of many types, including antidepressants, acetaminophen, and opiate painkillers. Six patients saw relief of their symptoms, but no treatment worked for more than one patient!
This problem has led doctors to throw up their hands. The author of one study concluded, “Treatment is seldom necessary and in most cases simple reassurance is sufficient.” This is easy to say when you’re not the one with the headache!
Could TMJ Treatment Prevent Nummular Headache?
Since nummular headache is believed to be caused by trigeminal nerve injury, it’s worth considering whether TMJ treatment could play a role in preventing or treating nummular headaches. TMJ can result in trigeminal nerve irritation and damage, so it’s possible that treating TMJ might prevent nummular headaches. The trigeminal nerve also plays a role in migraine headaches, and because nummular headaches and migraines sometimes occur together it’s possible that TMJ treatment could help it the way it helps with migraines.
No one has tested TMJ treatment as a nummular headache treatment option yet, so we can’t say for certain whether it would work, but whether you have a common headache or a rare one, we know that what matters most to you is relief. For help with your headache, please contact Smile Columbia Dentistry or call