Temporomandibular Disorder (TMJ) and Psychosomatic Symptoms from Adolescence to Young Adulthood

Keywords: TMJ, TMD, muscle spasms, mental component, psychosomatic symptoms

Tuija I. Suvinen, DDS, PhD/Marjatta Nyström, DDS, Odont Dr/Marjut Evälahti, DDS/Eija Kleemola-Kujala, DDS, Odont Dr/Antti Waltimo, DDS, Odont Dr/Mauno Könönen, DDS, Odont Dr

Aims: To assess the prevalence of subjective symptoms of pain and/or temporomandibular disorder (TMD) dysfunction and their association with psychosomatic (PS) symptoms in a longitudinal follow-up study of Finnish young adults over an 8-year period.

Methods: One hundred twenty-eight Finnish young adults (60 men and 68 women) were assessed longitudinally at the ages of 15, 18, and 23 years using routine stomatognathic methods and a standardized questionnaire.

Results: The prevalence of reported TMD symptoms ranged from 6% to 12% for pain symptoms, from 12% to 28% for dysfunctional symptoms, and from 4% to 7% for a combination of these 2 types of symptoms. The prevalence of PS symptoms, which were constantly present in many of the patients who reported them, ranged from 7% to 11%. A significant correlation (P.05) was found between TMD pain and PS symptoms at the ages of 15 and 18 years. PS symptoms were not significantly correlated to TMD dysfunction symptoms or to experiencing no symptoms at any age. The majority of subjects in all age groups with both TMD and PS symptoms were female, in a ratio of approximately 2 to 1.

Conclusion: The prevalence of TMD and PS symptoms was low in adolescence and young adulthood, and there was a significant association, although relatively weak, between PS symptoms and reports of either TMD pain or a combination of TMD pain and dysfunction symptoms. J OROFAC PAIN 2004;18:126–130

As this research has concluded, there is a significant association between TMJ disorders and psychosomatic symptoms. Many physical disorders and pain are believed to have a mental component derived from the stresses and strains of everyday living. This is the case for example, of jaw pain or muscle spasms, which appear to be caused by bruxism (clenching and grinding). Many people have no idea or control over their clenching and grinding, thus the mental component. If you are suffering from TMJ disorders or severe muscle spasms, there are many conservative treatment options that can help. Call and schedule an appointment with Dr. Stan Farrell at AZ-TMJ, 480-945-3629. www.headpaininstitute.com