TUESDAY, Nov. 15 (HealthDay News) -- People with chronic jaw
pain have increased pain sensitivity in other parts of the body, a
new study says.
This and other findings from the study could lead to new ways of
diagnosing facial pain conditions, predicting who is susceptible to
them, and perhaps lead to new treatments, according to the
The study included 3,200 healthy volunteers ages 18 to 44 who
were followed for three to five years to see how many developed
temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJD), which produce pain that
radiates from the jaw and surrounding muscles.
The researchers found that those who did develop TMJD had
heightened sensitivity to mildly painful sensations in other parts
of the body, were more aware of body sensations, and had more
significant heart rate increases when they were under mild
The study appears in the November issue of the
Journal of Pain.
"There is a real difference. People with TMJD are more sensitive than those without TMJD on parts of the body other than the jaw," co-author Joel Greenspan, professor and chair of the department of neural and pain sciences at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, said in a university news release.
"To us it means the nervous system for interpreting pain information is now altered. We think that general heightened pain sensitivity is part of the chronic pain problem," Greenspan explained.
He and his colleagues also identified several genes that may be
involved in TMJD and could offer targets for new drug treatments.
These genes include some known to affect stress response,
inflammation and mental well-being.
The American Dental Association has more about