Risk Factors for Chronic Facial Pains

The following article includes excerpts from a Missouri State University news article about the work of Dr. Paul Durham, who has participated in past TMJA scientific meetings.  We are happy to share with you the progress his lab is making.

“Lindsey Koop, a biology graduate student, has been investigating the role of increased levels of the pro-inflammatory proteins Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide (CGRP) and Protein Kinase A (PKA) in a model of TMD… Her research has shown that blocking the elevated levels of CGRP and PKA can inhibit the development of a more chronic pain condition. Work in the Durham lab has shown that pain in one part of the head or face (like sinus pathology or TMD) can increase the risk of developing a more chronic pain condition in another area (migraine). Therefore, it is important to better understand how to block pain in one area so as to minimize the risk of other co-morbid pain….”

“…It’s amazing to me how many people actually have dental or orthodontic work that end up on long-term disability due to chronic pain,” said Durham. He’s not talking about just TMD but also other types of chronic pain in the head and face such as frequent headaches and migraine. In this study, Cody Hyde, a junior biology major, is simulating prolonged jaw opening – like that in dental or orthodontic work – and correlating it to chronic pain. The Durham lab has found that keeping the mouth in a near maximum jaw opening position leads to inflammation and pain that is associated with TMD. “Our prediction is that if someone comes in to a dental clinic and has a lot of stiffness or tension in their neck from stress, opening his or her mouth for a long period of time could do irreparable damage,” said Durham. This line of research is just getting under way in their lab but is likely to provide evidence that having ongoing neck or shoulder muscle pain may be a significant risk factor for developing TMD symptoms if the jaw is held open too wide for a prolonged period of time.”…

Click here to read more about Dr. Durham’s work.

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