Temporomandibular disorders cases with high-impact pain are more likely to experience short-term pain fluctuations

Alberto Herrero Babiloni, Fernando G Exposto, Connor M Peck, Bruce R Lindgren, Marc O Martel, Christophe Lenglet, David A Bereiter, Lynn E Eberly, Estephan J Moana-Filho

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Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) patients can present clinically significant jaw pain fluctuations which can be debilitating and lead to poor global health. The Graded Chronic Pain Scale evaluates pain-related disability and its dichotomous grading (high/low impact pain) can determine patient care pathways and in general high-impact pain patients have worse treatment outcomes. Individuals with low-impact TMD pain are thought to have better psychosocial functioning, more favorable disease course, and better ability to control pain, while individuals with high-impact pain can present with higher levels of physical and psychological symptoms. Thereby, there is reason to believe that individuals with low- and high-impact TMD pain could experience different pain trajectories over time. Our primary objective was to determine if short-term jaw pain fluctuations serve as a clinical marker for the impact status of TMD pain. To this end, we estimated the association between high/low impact pain status and jaw pain fluctuations over three visits (≤ 21-day-period) in 30 TMD cases. Secondarily, we measured the association between jaw pain intensity and pressure pain thresholds (PPT) over the face and hand, the latter measurements compared to matched pain-free controls (n = 17). Jaw pain fluctuations were more frequent among high-impact pain cases (n = 15) than low-impact pain cases (n = 15) (OR 5.5; 95% CI 1.2, 26.4; p value = 0.033). Jaw pain ratings were not associated with PPT ratings (p value > 0.220), suggesting different mechanisms for clinical versus experimental pain. Results from this proof-of-concept study suggest that targeted treatments to reduce short-term pain fluctuations in high-impact TMD pain is a potential strategy to achieve improved patient perception of clinical pain management outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1657
Pages (from-to)1657
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R00DE027414, and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health Award No. UL1-TR002494. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. Additional support was provided by the Office of the Vice President for Research, University of Minnesota.

Funding Information:
Funding was provided by National Institutes of Health (Grant No. R00DE027414) and National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (Grant No. UL1-TR002494).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).

Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR) tags

  • ANDI

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural


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