According to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), chronic pain susceptibility is made in the brain and not in the body. This is just the most recent study to suggest that the brain is the primary source of chronic pain, such as TMJ.
t’s All In Your Head
For the new study, researchers scanned the brains of 46 people who reported lower back pain, but had not had any previous back pain for a year or more before. They then kept in touch with patients over the course of a year, and found that about half of the subjects recovered, while the other half did not.
Looking at the brain scans, they found consistent differences between subjects who recovered and those that continued to experience pain for more than a year after coming to the doctor. They were then able to compare the brain structures of those who did not recover to previously imaged suspects who were known to suffer from chronic pain. They found the people in these groups shared the anatomic markers that distinguished chronic pain sufferers from non-sufferers. They also compared the brain scans of people who recovered and healthy individuals and found that they shared the other distinguishing characteristics.
According to researchers, the scans predicted chronic pain in about 80% of cases.
Extrapolating to TMJ?
TMJ, fibromyalgia, and chronic back pain are often lumped together as chronic pain conditions, but it’s hard to know how much similarity the conditions really have. What we do know is that some people seem to experience jaw pain and headaches associated with TMJ that seem beyond what might be expected from the condition of the jaw itself. It would be interesting to compare brain scans of TMJ sufferers and see if they shared the same brain structure markers as lower back pain sufferers.
However, until someone funds that study, we will have to work with the TMJ treatments that we currently have. This is not a major sacrifice, because they tend to work pretty well.
To learn how well they can work for you, please call (303) 691-0267 at the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado in Denver.