One of the things that is most surprising about TMJ is that it has the ability to cause widespread symptoms that manifest all over your body. It’s so surprising that many TMJ sufferers don’t think their chronic pain elsewhere is related to their jaw pain, so they don’t mention it when seeking TMJ treatment, even when asked.

That’s the conclusion of a study conducted by researchers in a new study showing just how common body pain is and how often it goes unreported.

back of woman's neck, with pain

Understanding All Your Pain Can Help with Jaw Pain

So how common is chronic body pain in people seeking treatment for TMJ? And how reluctant are people to report it? To find out the answer to those questions, researchers experimented with 423 patients who were being evaluated for orofacial pain–pain in the jaw and face.

Patients were told to mark all the places they experienced pain on a map of the body. Once patients had completed their initial pain map, they were told that pain anywhere in the body could help doctors understand their facial pain. Then patients were allowed to mark their pain map again.

After being given two chances to mark their pain map, all patients were evaluated to determine the actual pains they had. The study showed that more than 60% of patients didn’t originally mark all their pain locations on the pain map. Even after a doctor told them that pain anywhere in the body could be linked to their facial pain, 30% of patients didn’t mark all pain locations on their map.

Overall, more than three-quarters of all patients (77%) had pain in regions other than the face and jaw. In fact, it was most common for patients to experience pain in five regions of their body. If distant pain is so common in people with orofacial pain, why are people so reluctant to report it?

Researchers proposed a few explanations. First, people might not think it’s related, so they don’t report pain in regions far from their primary complaint. But what about when a doctor explains the pains might be connected? Researchers think people might be embarrassed about pain in certain regions (such as sexual or excretory organs). And patients might just think that a care provider isn’t really interested in pains far from their area of expertise. They might think “My dentist doesn’t care about my knee pain.”

For Best Results, Be Open about Your Pain

No matter what reasons you might consider for not reporting your pain, put them aside and tell us all about your pain. We can’t treat TMJ symptoms we don’t know about.

There are many pains related to TMJ that you might never imagine. And even if they’re not related, they can help us determine more about the overall environment in which your TMJ occurs. That can help us achieve better results for your TMJ treatment. And if we can’t treat all your pains, we may be able to refer you to someone who can.

If you are looking for comprehensive pain relief, please call (201) 343-4044 for an appointment with a TMJ Dentist at River Edge Dental, New Jersey’s center for TMJ, sleep apnea, & reconstructive dentistry.