Can fibromyalgia cause jaw pain? What is fibromyalgia jaw pain?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes intense pain in various places on the body, often in and around the joints, and this includes the jaw.
However, people who suffer from fibromyalgia are also much more likely than other people to have a condition called temporomandibular disorder (TMD), which causes painful and uncomfortable symptoms with the jaw. But what is the connection between these two conditions? Does fibromyalgia cause jaw pain?
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What are Fibromyalgia and TMD?
Fibromyalgia symptoms and signs include widespread, often severe chronic pain around the body. The condition can also cause other symptoms such as extreme fatigue, difficulties with memory and concentration, sensations of tingling or numbness in the limbs, and digestive problems, among others.
People with fibromyalgia are also usually much more sensitive to pain in general. The condition is quite common, and it is suspected around 1 in 20 people could be affected by it to some extent.
Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) is one of the types of fibromyalgia pain and a condition that causes problems with the temporomandibular joint, which connects the jaw to the skull, and the jaw muscles around it. Symptoms commonly include:
- Pain and discomfort around the jaw, face, and ears
- Clicking and popping sounds and sensations when moving the jaw, which can be painful
- Difficulty opening and closing the mouth, and the jaw may even get stuck in a certain position
- Headaches, especially near the temples
It is difficult to know exactly how many people are affected by TMD, as many people do not seek medical help for the symptoms, but it is thought to be a very common condition. Anybody can develop TMD regardless of age or background, but it is more common for women and for people aged 20 to 40 years old.
For many people, TMD is usually not serious and will often go away on its own. However, more serious and long-lasting cases do happen, which can have a severe effect on daily life.
This could be caused by a problem with how the jaw or teeth are aligned, and could also be caused or worsened by stress-induced grinding of the teeth, which is usually subconscious.
However, there are likely to be other reasons that people with fibromyalgia are so likely to also experience TMD.
The Connection Between Fibromyalgia Jaw Pain and TMD
So, what is the link between fibromyalgia and TMD? The two conditions are considered separate but are closely associated with each other, and TMD is usually tested for when diagnosing fibromyalgia, as it has been shown that people with fibromyalgia are far more prone to developing TMD as well. Though the exact reasons for this are not yet known with certainty, one possibility is that the two conditions have very similar causes.
When somebody experiences the symptoms of TMD as a result of stress, trauma or wear and tear to the jaw joints, the pain and discomfort will usually improve within a relatively short time. However, for many people who have both TMD and fibromyalgia, the symptoms around the jaw are often chronic and do not have an obvious cause, similar to fibromyalgia itself.
The main theory about the origins of fibromyalgia is that people with the condition have a much higher sensitivity to pain as a result of differences in the way that their central nervous system processes pain messages. It is also thought that it could be the result of imbalances of certain chemicals that are produced in the brain, such as serotonin and dopamine, as these chemicals play a part in the processing of pain signals.
For some people with more severe TMD, their condition may have a similar root cause, only localized in a single area rather than around the whole body. Due to this, and because people with one chronic pain condition are also at higher risk of developing another, they may be at a high risk of also developing fibromyalgia, and many people with TMD will also experience pain in other parts of the body. The similar causes of the two conditions would also explain why people with fibromyalgia have such a high incidence of experiencing TMD symptoms.
It is also possible that fibromyalgia itself more directly leads to TMD symptoms. For people with fibromyalgia, it may be that their condition causes or worsens the symptoms of TMD by increasing their sensitivity to pain and discomfort in that area. Fibromyalgia can affect many areas of the body and may spread to different areas over time, including to the jaw region.
What Can You Do To Help Ease Jaw Pain?
Whether your jaw pain is short-lived or long-term, there are many things you can try yourself to help ease the symptoms. Examples are:
- Eating soft, easy to eat foods, such as soup, yogurts, cooked vegetables, pasta and mashed potatoes
- Massaging the affected area and applying hot or cold packs
- Finding ways to relieve stress and relax, as stress can exacerbate the symptoms of jaw pain
- Using painkillers (as long as there is no reason you should not take them)
You should also ensure that you avoid:
- Eating any foods that are hard or take a long time to chew, such as chewing gum
- Biting your nails
- Clenching your teeth
- Opening your mouth too wide when you yawn
You should always make sure that you discuss the jaw pain with your doctor, especially if it is severe and/or chronic so that you can receive specialized advice and treatment. TMD will often be treated by a dentist. Certain treatments may be necessary for severe cases of the condition, such as doing special techniques and jaw exercises to ease the symptoms, using stronger painkillers or other medication, or in the most serious cases, even surgery may be needed to address what is causing the problem.
As research continues into the causes of fibromyalgia jaw pain and TMD and how they are connected, hopefully, our understanding of how to treat them both will further grow and improve, and any progress that is made with understanding one condition may offer us insight into the other.
If you have fibro, weighted blankets for fibromyalgia proved to be an excellent natural remedy for this condition. Weighted blankets can be helpful for pain relief, anxiety, stress, and fibromyalgia insomnia contributing to greatly improving the quality of life for people affected by this condition.