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Myofacial Pain Dysfunction Syndrome

What is myofacial pain dysfunction syndrome?

Myofacial pain dysfunction syndrome is disorder characterized by unilateral pain referred from trigger points located in the muscle in the facial region. It should not be confused with myofascial pain syndrome which relates to triggers points that can occur anywhere in the body. It is one of the most common stress related orofacial pain disorder and most of the times it is mistaken for other disorders related to the temporomandibular joint. The disease is related to several contributing factors varying from muscular injuries to physiological stress.

Myofacial Pain Dysfunction Syndrome Symptoms

Myofacial pain dysfunction syndrome presents with multiple symptoms and severity varies in each patient. The cardinal symptom of myofacial pain dysfunction syndrome includes pain and discomfort of unexplained origin in head and neck region. The pain is constant, dull in nature and may range from mild to moderate in intensity.

The patient generally experiences limitations of mouth opening. Mild to moderate pain and clicking or snapping sounds may be produced on opening of the jaws. Tenderness may be present over the muscles aiding in chewing and jaw movements. The patient is not associated with recent history of trauma, infections and joint problems in case of suspected myofacial pain dysfunction syndrome.

Other associated symptoms in myofacial pain dysfunction syndrome include tingling sensation or twitching of facial muscles. Ear pain, dizziness and vertigo may also be present. Nausea, vomiting and constipation like gastric symptoms may also be evident in few patients.
The patient generally experiences the pain episodes in period of stress and tension.

Myofacial Pain Dysfunction Syndrome Causes

Myofacial pain dysfunction syndrome affects around 30% of the general population and has a significant female predominance. The classic patients of myofacial pain dysfunction syndrome are women between 15 to 40 years. The contributing factors for myofacial pain dysfunction syndrome includes the following,

Emotional stress is one of the most constant finding seen in patients of myofacial pain dysfunction syndrome. Under emotional stress the skeletal muscles exhibit general and sustained over activity of facial muscles leading to muscles fatigue. Habits such as lip biting, bruxism, pipe smoking and tongue thrusting that causes constant pressure on jaw muscles. Dental problems such as orthodontic problems and improper dental restorations causing unbalanced in dental occlusion :

  • Muscular exertion
  • Physical disorders
  • Injuries to the tissues
  • Disuse of facial muscles
  • Nutritional problems
  • Sleep disturbances

Treatment of Myofacial Pain Dysfunction Syndrome

The treatment of myofacial pain dysfunction syndrome requires several approaches and different techniques. The medication is prescribed for relieving the pain, reducing the inflammation and controls the stress levels. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen are recommended. Muscle relaxants such as diazepam or cyclobenzopine are given for short durations. In cases with very severe pain, intramuscular injections of local anesthetics can be employed.

In case of myofacial pain dysfunction syndrome physical therapy is an important aspect of the treatment. Heat application over affected muscle, stretching exercises and massage is recommended. Cryotherapy ice pack application, ultrasound therapy and electrogalavnic stimulation are also beneficial. The patient should undergo psychological counseling to reduce stress. Other methods to reduce stress include meditation, acupressure, acupuncture, yoga, hypnosis, deep breathing exercises and relaxation. Surgical techniques such as condylectomy or eminectomy can also be considered in severe and unresponsive cases.


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