If you don’t suffer from frequent headaches or TMJ pain, it can be hard to understand what sufferers are going through. Head and facial pain may not seem like a major burden, but the truth is these people are seriously suffering. And it makes it worse when people — especially friends, family, and doctors — don’t acknowledge their pain.
Fortunately, there’s new data out from Duke University that could help people better understand the pain associated with TMJ. It’s different from other types of pain because facial pain feeds directly into the body’s emotional network.
A Direct Link to Your Emotions
We’ve long known that people with head and face report greater fear and suffering associated with their pain. But it isn’t just that people say they have more fear: Testing confirms that the emotional centers of the brain are more active when people experience headaches than when they have other types of pain. This has real-world consequences: people with migraines report more disability related to their pain than other chronic pain sufferers.
To try to explain why this is the case, researchers investigated how pain signals move to and through the brain.
To test the wiring, they irritated mice, either in the face or on a paw and gauged how the signals were passed. They found that when the face was irritated, it led to higher excitement in the parabrachial nucleus (PBL), which is wired directly to the brain’s emotional centers.
They found that the excitement is increased because the facial nerves are wired directly into the PBL. But pain from other parts of the body has to take a roundabout route to the PBL, diminishing their impact.
The researchers of this study say they hope that their findings will make it easier for doctors to treat the emotional dimension of facial pain in the future. In the meantime, the findings at least help us to be more sympathetic and proactive in treatment.
Read the full study HERE.
Treatment for TMJ and Facial Pain
The best way to control the emotional impact of head and face pain is to control the pain. Fortunately, TMJ treatment can do just that, combating many sources of pain in the head, including jaw pain, face pain, headaches, earaches, and more.
If you’re looking for help dealing with any TMJ-related pain in Pasadena, please call 626-773-8333 today for an appointment with our team at Pasadena Pain Management.
About Pasadena Pain Management
Pasadena Pain Management offers pain management treatment for TMJ/TMD, migraine, headaches and neck pain in Pasadena, CA. Our office is conveniently located with extended hours to meet your needs. At Pasadena Pain Management, we offer the exclusive TruDenta treatment therapy — a highly specialized form of care that involves cutting-edge dental technology, without needles or injections. Patient satisfaction is our top priority and we strive to provide the exceptional, affordable pain management care and personal touch that lead to lasting relationships. A smiling patient is our greatest reward and we look forward to keeping our patients happy and pain free.