Fibromyalgia and Temporomandibular Disorders: Are they connected?
People with fibromyalgia are more likely to suffer from jaw disorders than people without the condition, suggests the results of a new study from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Fibromyalgia is known to trigger widespread musculoskeletal pain, but few studies have examined the link between the condition and temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD).
Researchers compared 25 patients with fibromyalgia to 25 healthy participants. Orofacial evaluations and detailed questionnaires showed that fibromyalgia patients had a higher frequency of TMD and pain with jaw movements. They also experienced more pain with head and neck movements, and reported frequent headaches, earaches, and sleep disturbances. Despite these increased symptoms, the fibromyalgia patients did not have any observable differences in dental or intraoral examinations, suggesting that TMD symptoms resulted from a source outside the oral region.
Studies suggest that oral burning sensations in patients with fibromyalgia could be connected to central hyper-excitability, pointed out Eric T. Stoopler in Medscape.
The findings could have important implications for auto-injury patients suffering from widespread chronic pain. It's possible that a similar mechanism of central hyper-excitability may underlie jaw symptoms in patients with whiplash-associated disorders. Studies show that TMD symptoms are common after whiplash injury but typically have a delayed onset. This delayed development of jaw symptoms could be a sign of sensitization, although more research is needed to investigate this hypothesis.
Whiplash patients can also suffer from widespread chronic pain characteristic of fibromyalgia syndrome.
While the relationship between widespread chronic pain and TMD is still unclear, the study suggests that TMD symptoms may be a potential comorbid condition of fibromyalgia syndrome.
de Silva LA, et al. High prevalence of orofacial complaints in patients with fibromyalgia: a case-control study. Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology, Oral Radiology, and Endodontology 2012; 114(5):e29-34. doi: 10.1016/j.oooo.2012.04.001.
Stoopler ET. Orofacial Pain and Fibromyalgia: What's the Connection? Medscape Today News. November 16, 2012.