Recent research results have demonstrated that temporomandibular disorders (TMJ) are complex medical conditions that involve multiple body systems, rather than just a localized jaw condition. The cardiovascular, neurological, immunological, digestive, respiratory, endocrine and musculoskeletal systems contribute to the onset, development and/or persistence of TMJ, as well as influence treatment outcomes.
Conditions that Coexist with TMJ
The following list of conditions appears in the 2020 National Academy of Medicine report on TMJ:
- Ankylosing spondylitis in other body joints
- Back, neck, and joint pain
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Heart disease
- Interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome
- Juvenile idiopathic arthritis in other body joints
- Neural/sensory conditions
- Osteoarthritis in other body joints
- Poor nutrition due to alerted jaw function and/or pain while chewing
- Psoriatic arthritis in other body joints
- Respiratory conditions (e.g., sinus trouble, allergies or hives, asthma, tuberculosis, breathing difficulties)
- Rheumatoid arthritis in other body joints
- Sjogren’s syndrome
- Sleep disorders (e.g., insomnia, poor sleep quality, longer sleep latency, lower sleep efficiency)
- Somatic and psychological symptoms (e.g., depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder)
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
Most of these conditions are ‘diagnoses of exclusion,’ meaning that they are diagnosed after any known causes are ruled out. Due to the lack of awareness and training, misdiagnosis is common and many clinicians are unaware of the inter-relationship of these conditions. It’s important for you to discuss all of your medical conditions with any health care provider you consult, even if you might not think they are related.
To call attention to these poorly understood pain conditions that primarily or exclusively affect women, The TMJ Association co-founded the Chronic Pain Research Alliance (CPRA) in 2009. The CPRA is working to educate federal authorities and advance research to discover mechanisms common to these conditions and safe and effective treatments. For more information, please visit: www.ChronicPainResearch.org.