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Volume 19 , Issue 3
Summer 2005

Pages 193201

Musculoskeletal Orofacial Pain and Other Signs and Symptoms of Temporomandibular Disorders During Pregnancy: A Prospective Study

Linda LeResche, ScD/Jeffrey J. Sherman, PhD/Kimberly Huggins, BS, RDH/Kathleen Saunders, JD/Lloyd A. Mancl, PhD/Gretchen Lentz, MD/Samuel F. Dworkin, DDS, PhD

PMID: 16106712

Aims: To describe the course of reported musculoskeletal pain in the temporomandibular region and other signs and symptoms of temporomandibular disorders (TMD) as well as psychological distress over the course of pregnancy and 1 year postpartum. Methods: Women with musculoskeletal orofacial pain (n = 19) and pain-free comparison subjects (n = 16) in the first trimester of pregnancy were selected through records review from the population of a large health maintenance organization. Subjects completed a self-administered questionnaire assessing pain, depression, and somatic symptoms; provided a sample of whole unstimulated saliva; and underwent a standardized clinical examination during the third, sixth, and ninth months of pregnancy and 1 year postpartum. Results: At baseline (third month of pregnancy), 16 of the 19 patients with musculoskeletal orofacial pain met criteria for an RDC/TMD diagnosis. Reported musculoskeletal orofacial pain diminished significantly during the second or third trimester of pregnancy and increased again postpartum. Measures of mandibular opening increased over pregnancy in both cases and comparison subjects and remained high postpartum. Depression and somatic symptoms changed little over the course of pregnancy but were substantially lowered at 1 year postpartum for both groups. As expected, subjects with pain had higher levels of palpation pain, diminished mandibular range of motion, and higher levels of psychological distress compared to subjects without orofacial pain. Conclusion: Musculoskeletal orofacial pain and related symptoms appear to improve over the course of pregnancy. This improvement occurs in the presence of increased joint laxity and is not paralleled by improvements in psychological distress. Thus, it was concluded that the improvement in pain is most likely associated with the dramatic hormonal changes occurring during pregnancy. J Orofac Pain 2005;19:193201

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