What Is Myofascial Pain Disorder?
Myofascial pain disorder (MPD), or myofascial pain syndrome, is caused by the development of trigger points in the muscles of the jaw, face, and neck. Trigger points can cause pain, stiffness, and a limited range of motion in the jaw. It’s the most common type of TMJ disorder and is typically treated with physical therapy, massage therapy, and trigger point injections.
Trigger points are typically small, palpable knots or nodules within muscle tissue. When pressure is applied to these points, they can produce pain and often radiate pain to other areas of the body. There are two types of trigger points:
- Active Trigger Point: These are actively painful and can cause pain both locally and in a referred pattern.
- Latent Trigger Point: These are dormant trigger points that may not cause pain unless activated by pressure or muscle overuse.
Symptoms of Myofascial Pain Syndrome
Symptoms of myofascial pain syndrome can be mild or severe and may be intermittent or constant. They can also be exacerbated by activities that involve the jaw, such as eating, talking, or yawning.
Some symptoms include:
- Referred pain, such as a trigger point in the shoulder may cause pain to radiate down the arm or into the neck
- Pain or tenderness in the jaw, face, neck, or shoulders
- Muscle pain
- Limited range of motion in the jaw
- Difficulty chewing or speaking
- Clicking or popping sounds when opening or closing the mouth
If you experience these symptoms, contact our dentist in Farmington to schedule a TMJ consultation.
Causes of Myofascial Pain Disorder
Myofascial pain syndrome can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Bruxism: Bruxism is the habitual grinding or clenching of teeth, which can stress the TMJ and surrounding muscles. Teeth grinding can cause muscle tension, and trigger points, which may lead to a myofascial pain syndrome.
- Jaw Trauma or Injury: Injury to the jaw or face can cause damage to the TMJ and surrounding muscles, leading to the disorder. Jaw trauma can be due to a sports injury, a car accident, or a physical impact.
- Arthritis: Arthritis is a condition that causes inflammation and damage to the joints. When arthritis affects the TMJ, it can cause pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion in the jaw.
- Poor Posture or Jaw Alignment: Poor posture or alignment of the jaw and neck can also contribute to the development of myofascial pain syndrome. This can include sitting at a desk for extended periods, holding the phone between the ear and shoulder, or sleeping in an awkward position.
Who Can Get Myofascial Pain Syndrome?
Anyone can develop myofascial pain syndrome, regardless of age, gender, or occupation. However, certain factors may increase the risk of developing the condition:
- History of jaw trauma or injury
- Regularly engaging in activities that put stress on the jaw and facial muscles
- Certain medical conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, or other chronic pain conditions
- Poor posture or jaw alignment
- Bruxism (the habit of grinding or clenching the teeth)
Myofascial Pain Syndrome Treatments
Treatment options for myofascial pain syndrome may vary depending on its severity and the underlying causes of the condition. Common treatments include:
- Physical Therapy: Stretching exercises and other physical therapy techniques can help improve the range of motion and alleviate pain in the jaw and surrounding muscles.
- Medications: Over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen may be recommended to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. In some cases, we may prescribe medications such as muscle relaxants or antidepressants.
- Trigger Point Injections: These injections typically involve the injection of a local anesthetic or corticosteroid directly into the affected muscle.
- Dental Devices: In some cases, a splint or mouthguard can help alleviate symptoms of bruxism (teeth grinding) and reduce stress on the jaw and facial muscles.
- Surgery: In severe cases of myofascial pain, we may recommend surgery to alleviate pain and improve jaw function. However, surgery is typically only recommended after other treatment options have been exhausted.
Frequently Asked Questions
How is myofascial pain disorder in the TMJ diagnosed?
To diagnose MPD, a healthcare provider will typically perform a physical exam, assess the patient’s medical history and symptoms, and may order imaging tests such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs. In some cases, electromyography (EMG) or other specialized tests may also help diagnose the condition.
Can myofascial pain disorder in the TMJ be prevented?
While there’s no sure way to prevent myofascial pain disorder, several habits can help reduce the risk of developing the condition. Maintaining good posture, avoiding habits like teeth clenching or grinding, and using proper techniques when playing sports can help prevent the development of TMJ disorders. Additionally, regular exercise, a healthy diet, and maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce the risk of developing MPD.
Schedule Your Appointment Today!
If you’re experiencing symptoms of myofascial pain in the TMJ, it’s crucial to speak with a healthcare professional to receive an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Don’t let pain and discomfort interfere with your daily life.