According to researchers at Duke University, TMJ jaw pain may lead to reduced bite force, which might make it hard for people to continue enjoying a full and varied diet. Fortunately, though, removal of pain leads to a restoration of bite force.
Finding the Cause of TMJ Pain in Mice
Researchers at Duke University have long suspected the role of a particular protein, called TRPV4, in TMJ pain. They further established this connection by injecting the temporomandibular joints of mice with a chemical that causes joint pain and inflammation. They found that in response to the injection, TRPV4 increased on the trigeminal ganglion, which is part of the trigeminal nerve. The trigeminal nerve is associated with both TMJ and migraines. TRPV4 is a protein that can admit calcium into nerves, causing them to fire pain signals.
However, researchers also found that in addition to increases in the TRPV4 protein, mice reduced their bite force significantly when they were suffering TMJ pain, similar to the way many people cope with TMJ pain. Researchers found that when they injected the mice with TRPV4-blocking agent, the mice resumed their normal bite force, presumably because they were not feeling joint pain.
What is important about TRPV4 is that it is considered “upstream” of other TMJ jaw pain factors, meaning that it is more likely the true cause of cascading effects, rather than itself an effect. Neutralizing TRPV4 may someday become a powerful TMJ treatment.
TMJ Treatment Can Relieve Jaw Pain and Restore Bite Force
Although researchers used TRPV4-neutralizing agents in the study to alleviate pain and restore bite force, we know that TMJ treatment can be successful at eliminating your pain. Until new treatments become available that may be even more effective, we will continue using ones that we know help our patients.
To learn more about the successful TMJ treatment options available today, please call (303) 691-0267 at the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado in Denver.