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Pain in the Jaw Sign of Depression, Anxiety

Update Date: Jan 24, 2013 08:00 AM EST

A new study has found that pain in the jaw may be linked to depression and anxiety, HealthDay reports.

Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorder otherwise called as TMJ, affect millions of people in the world. However, what causes this pain isn't known, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.  TMJ disorder can be caused by an injury to the jaw. In many people, pain in the jaw begins without any obvious reason.

 Although, some experts believe that an improper bite may result in jaw problems, it doesn't explain why mostly women are affected by the condition. In some cases, grinding of teeth is seen as a reason for the condition. However, many people never suffer from TMJ disorder even after years of habitual grinding of teeth.

 According to estimates, some 10 million Americans suffer from frequent pain in the jaw and women are more affected by this condition than men, says NIDCR.

The present study, conducted by researchers from Germany, found a link between this condition and symptoms of depression and anxiety.

The study included some 4,000 people who underwent medical examination, oral health checkups and psychiatric assessments.

Researchers found that joint pain, not muscle pain, was associated with symptoms of depression whereas symptoms of anxiety were related to muscle pain.

Study authors say that depression or anxiety may start hyperactivity in the muscles that may further lead to change in the muscle structure and the way it functions. This, in turn causes swelling and muscle pain. Researchers also added that the changes in brains of people fighting depression may also lead to changes in the way they respond to pain. Thus, pain in the jaw may be a sign of an underlying psychiatric problem like depression or anxiety.

The study was conducted by researchers from University of Greifswald in Germany and is published in the Journal of Pain

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