A new study published by researchers at Uniformed Health Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD shows that most people who experience orofacial pain as a result of TMJ and other conditions actually experience pain elsewhere in the body as well. But they usually don’t report it, even when asked.

young adult man holding his jaw in pain

Understanding All Your Pain Can Help with Jaw Pain

This study looked at 423 patients who were being evaluated for orofacial pain. The patients were asked to report all the places they experienced pain, and to mark it on an anatomical map they were given, showing both front and back. But before patients were actually evaluated, they were given an explanation that pain anywhere in the body could be helpful in diagnosing their facial pain, then asked again to highlight all the regions where they experienced pain.

Finally, patients were asked directly where they experienced pain and given the opportunity to fill out more regions on the map. Finally, doctors evaluated patients for the areas where they actually experienced pain.

During the initial report, more than 60% of patients didn’t put down all their pain locations. Even after being told about the potential link with pain anywhere on their body, 30% of patients didn’t report all their pain locations.

So how many of these patients had pain far from the site of their original complaint? Over 77% of them. In fact, patients most commonly reported pain in five different regions of the body.

Researchers offered many potential explanations for the reluctance. The most common is that people might not think other pain is related to their orofacial pain, which is why so many people reported it after having the connection explained. But people may also be embarrassed if pain relates to sexual or personal areas. Or they might think that the health professional they’re working with isn’t interested in those areas (e.g. my dentist doesn’t care about my knee pain).

For Best Results, Be Open about Your Pain

If you are looking for treatment for TMJ, you might not think that back pain, arm pain, and other types of pain are relevant to the condition. But it might be, and we can’t tell if you don’t give us all the information.

And even if your other pain is not TMJ-related, at the Michigan Center for TMJ & Sleep Wellness, we work with a wide variety of health professionals that may be able to help you get relief from all your discomfort.

If you are looking for help getting complete relief from your chronic pain in the Detroit area, please call (248) 480-0085 for an appointment with a TMJ dentist at the Michigan Center for TMJ & Sleep Wellness.