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Masticatory Myalgia

Masticatory Myalgia

By Dr. Patrick Lovegrove Medically Reviewed by Lindsay Langley, BSN, RN, CHT
Posted Thursday, August 31st, 2023
Masticatory Myalgia

Masticatory Myalgia, also known as TMD (Temporomandibular Disorder), is a chronic muscle pain disorder that affects the masticatory muscles, which control chewing and jaw movement. This condition is one of the most common causes of orofacial pain and discomfort, with the prevalence increasing significantly over the past few years.

Despite being primarily a muscular disorder, Masticatory Myalgia often involves temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ). It can be linked to chronic headaches, neck aches, and other musculoskeletal disorders.

Symptoms of Masticatory Myalgia

Individuals affected by Masticatory Myalgia can experience various symptoms, often significantly impacting day-to-day life. The most frequent symptoms include:

• Pain in the face, jaw, or around the ears

• Limited ability or discomfort when opening the mouth wide

• Jaws that won’t move or are stuck with the mouth open or closed

• When you open and close your mouth, you hear a clicking or grating noise from your jaw joint.  

• Trouble chewing or a quick, painful bite.

Remember, if you are experiencing severe discomfort or any of these symptoms, it is important to seek immediate medical attention.

Causes and Risk Factors of Masticatory Myalgia

Masticatory Myalgia, a kind of Temporomandibular muscle disorder (TMD), is a chronic facial pain related to the muscles responsible for chewing and jaw movement. Several factors can contribute to the development of Masticatory Myalgia.

Muscle Dysfunction and Tension

Muscle Dysfunction and Tension are among the most significant factors contributing to Masticatory Myalgia. Chronic muscle tension may come from a misaligned bite or dislocation, causing muscle straining that later leads to this condition.

Psychological Factors

Masticatory myalgia can be exacerbated by mental variables such as stress and anxiety. These factors can cause subconscious clenching and grinding of the teeth, resulting in muscle strain and pain.

Contributing Factors like Bruxism or TMJ Disorder

Certain conditions such as Bruxism (teeth grinding) or TMJ Disorder can further exacerbate Masticatory Myalgia. Bruxism, often caused by stress, can contribute to tension and strain in the masticatory muscles. Similarly, Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, which can arise from trauma or arthritis, can also lead to Masticatory Myalgia. These conditions increase the strain on the muscles involved in chewing and jaw movement, leading to the painful symptoms of this disorder.

Understanding Masticatory Myalgia’s causes and risk factors can enable individuals to seek appropriate preventive or therapeutic measures to manage this condition.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Masticatory Myalgia

How Masticatory Myalgia is Diagnosed

Masticatory Myalgia is typically diagnosed through physical examinations and tests, primarily focused on the patient’s jaw and facial muscles. A healthcare provider may palpate or gently press on these areas to determine if the patient experiences pain or discomfort upon contact.

Medical and Dental Examination

Besides the physical examination, the healthcare provider critically examines the patient’s medical and dental history. Important details about the patient’s ailment duration and any underlying behaviors or actions that may be contributing factors, such as teeth grinding, stress, and specific eating habits, could be gleaned from such an analysis.

Treatment Options for Masticatory Myalgia

There are a few treatment options available to manage masticatory myalgia. These include:

  • Medication: In some cases, prescription medications such as muscle relaxants and pain relievers may help to alleviate symptoms.
  • Physical Therapy: This may involve exercises to stretch and strengthen jaw muscles, improving their function and reducing pain.
  • Behavioral Therapy: This suggests lifestyle changes, such as stress management and relaxation techniques, which can play a substantial role in managing the condition.
  • Dental Care: Using oral appliances like bite guards can help prevent damage caused by teeth clenching or grinding.

Treatment of masticatory myalgia should be patient-specific and targeted towards improving the patient’s quality of life. Lifestyle and Home Remedies for Masticatory Myalgia

Relief from masticatory myalgia, or jaw muscle pain, often comes from a combination of professional treatment and home remedies. Here are some suggestions:

Exercises and Stretches for Jaw Muscles

Simple and gentle jaw exercises can keep the muscles flexible and relaxed, reducing the discomfort of masticatory myalgia. Some beneficial exercises include:

  • Gentle jaw opening and closing
  • Side-to-side jaw movements
  • Forward jaw movements

Stress Management Techniques

Stress is a common trigger for jaw pain. Useful techniques for managing stress include:

  • Yoga and meditation
  • Breathing exercises
  • Regular physical exercise

Diet and Nutrition for Muscle Health

Eating a well-balanced diet promotes overall muscle health and incorporates foods such as:

  • Protein-rich foods for muscle repair
  • Green leafy vegetables for minerals
  • Foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids for reducing inflammation

Muscle cramps are a sign that you’re not drinking enough water.

Preventing Triggering Factors

Symptoms can be alleviated by avoiding caffeine and alcohol, so limiting your intake of these substances is another preventative step.

Remember, these techniques should augment, not replace, professional treatment. If you need specific guidance, talk to your doctor.

Medications for Masticatory Myalgia

Suppose you have been diagnosed with masticatory myalgia, a disorder identified by pain in the jaw muscles during mastication. In that case, your healthcare provider may administer various medicines to alleviate your symptoms. Let’s delve into the most frequently prescribed medications for this condition.

Muscle Relaxants and Pain Relievers

Muscle relaxants and pain relievers are two medications that have proven effective in treating masticatory myalgia symptoms. Here are some commonly prescribed options:

1. Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): Over-the-counter NSAIDs like ibuprofen can reduce inflammation and relieve temporary pain.

2. Benzodiazepines: This type of muscle relaxant, such as diazepam (Valium), can lessen the discomfort related to muscle spasms. They must be used judiciously, as they have the potential for dependency.

3. Tricyclic Antidepressants: Medications like amitriptyline are often used for chronic pain, including masticatory myalgia. They’re typically taken before bedtime to help improve sleep and reduce pain.

4. Gabapentin: Originally used for seizures, gabapentin is now frequently used to manage chronic pain.

5. Cyclobenzaprine: This is another muscle relaxant that’s commonly prescribed for masticatory myalgia. It acts by reducing muscle spasms contributing to pain.

In addition to medicine, your doctor may suggest you try physical therapy, learn how to deal with stress, or even change your food and way of life. Always discuss with your healthcare provider to ensure you get the most appropriate treatment for your masticatory myalgia.

Physical Therapy and Alternative Therapies for Masticatory Myalgia

Multiple treatment options for managing masticatory myalgia include physical therapy and several alternative therapies. Let’s delve into these treatment methods:

Benefits of Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is one of the standard treatment measures for masticatory myalgia, a painful condition involving the muscles of mastication. It provides several benefits, such as:

  • Relief from pain: Physical therapy helps manage the discomfort associated with masticatory myalgia.
  • Rate of recovery: It could speed up the healing process, restoring the normal function of the jaw muscles.
  • Preventing future issues: Regular physical therapy exercises can help prevent further complications or a reoccurrence of the problem.

Acupuncture, Massage, or Chiropractic Treatment

Acupuncturemassage, and chiropractic treatments are alternative therapies that have proven effective in some cases of masticatory myalgia:

  • Acupuncture: Acupuncture, a traditional Chinese medicine, might help relieve pain by redirecting energy flow and infusing the body with natural painkillers.
  • Massage: Tense jaw muscles can be eased with massage therapy, which can also reduce the stress that’s making the discomfort worse and increase blood flow to the area.
  • Chiropractic treatment: This therapy is especially beneficial, given its focus on musculoskeletal issues. It can help to realign the spine and jaw, relieving stress on the impacted muscles.

Considering the benefits, these alternative therapy options can be excellent supplementary treatments for combating masticatory myalgia. As always, it is recommended to consult with your health provider to define the optimal therapy for your specific condition.

Coping with Masticatory Myalgia

It can be difficult to cope with masticatory myalgia, a common persistent facial pain. Temporomandibular joint disease (TMJD) is characterized by pain or discomfort in the jaw muscles or joints.

Here are some coping strategies and support options that can help mitigate the impact of this condition on your daily life.

Support and Coping Strategies

1. Medical Treatment and Therapy: Consider seeing a health professional about your masticatory myalgia. Therapies may include medication, physical therapy, or cognitive-behavioral therapy, which focuses on helping individuals manage their reactions to pain.

2. Lifestyle Changes: The symptoms of this illness can be controlled by avoiding activities that involve repetitive jaw movement (such as excessive chewing gum or yawning). Try to eat soft foods, avoid caffeine, and implement stress-management techniques into your daily routine.

3. Support Groups: Those dealing with chronic pain, such as masticatory myalgia, may find solace in joining a support group.

4. Regular exercise: Light exercise can help alleviate stress which is often a contributing factor to jaw pain. 

5. Heat or Ice packs: Putting heat or ice on an area can help ease the pain.

Coping with masticatory myalgia can be challenging. But with the right help, you can effectively manage this condition and lead a healthy and comfortable life.

Prevention and Prognosis of Masticatory Myalgia

While masticatory myalgia can greatly impact the quality of life, there are multiple ways to prevent its occurrence and manage its symptoms potentially.

Preventive Measures for Masticatory Myalgia

The primary preventive measure for masticatory myalgia is to limit the activities that can overwork the muscles involved in chewing. It can include:

  • I am avoiding chewing gum or hard foods.
  • I am trying not to clench or grind your teeth.
  • Regularly practicing stress-relief techniques to help control tension in these muscles.
  • Regular dental check-ups ensure oral health and prevent the development of conditions, from toothache to occlusal or dental anomalies, that can trigger masticatory myalgia. Furthermore, a dentist’s professional advice could be handy.

Long-term Outlook and Prognosis

The prognosis for masticatory myalgia varies depending on individual circumstances – the underlying cause, the severity of symptoms, and the treatment provided. If the root cause is addressed, the individual can generally recover. Chronic cases may require ongoing management to keep symptoms at a manageable level.

It’s always important to consult a dental professional or specialist in facial skeletal muscle disorders if you are experiencing this condition. They can diagnose properly and help devise an appropriate treatment plan for your needs.

Prevention is better than cure, so maintaining good oral health habits and routine dental check-ups is key.

Frequently Asked Questions about Masticatory Myalgia

Common Questions and Answers

Firstly, let’s understand that the term Masticatory Myalgia (MM) refers to a group of painful disorders that involve the muscles used in chewing. This condition is commonly characterized by dull, aching jaw pain and tenderness upon palpation, often aggravated by jaw movements like chewing or speaking.

Now, here are common questions people usually ask about this condition:

Q1: What are the causes of Masticatory Myalgia?

A: MM is often a result of repetitive muscle activity like tooth grinding, known as Bruxism, or excessive jaw clenching. Various psychological factors like stress and anxiety can also trigger it.

Q2: How can Masticatory Myalgia be diagnosed?

A: Often, diagnosis involves a careful history and physical examination by a professional, followed by a trigger point examination. Localized, painful muscle spasms can differentiate this condition from other conditions.

Q3: What are the treatment options for MM?

A: In most cases, MM is manageable through conservative treatments, such as pain relief medications, muscle relaxants, heat therapy, stress management, and physical therapy. Some individuals may also benefit from biofeedback or cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Remember, if you think you might be suffering from Masticatory Myalgia, it’s best to consult a health professional who can provide a comprehensive diagnosis and recommend an appropriate treatment plan.


Masticatory myalgia is a common medical condition that affects regular jaw functions due to pain and discomfort in the muscles used for chewing. It’s essential to be aware of the common symptoms of masticatory myalgia, mainly facial pain, especially while chewing, jaw or muscle stiffness, and headaches.

Summary of Masticatory Myalgia and Key Takeaways

Here, we summarize the key points highlighted in the article:

– Understanding Masticatory Myalgia: It’s a musculoskeletal disorder causing discomfort and pain in the jaw muscles.

– Diagnosis: Masticatory myalgia is usually diagnosed based on clinical symptoms accompanied by a thorough examination.

Treatment: Treatment strategies often involve managing pain with pharmacological interventions, physical therapies, and lifestyle modifications.

– Prevention: Preventive measures mainly involve physiotherapy, stress management, and maintaining a balanced diet.

– Medical Consultation: It’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional if you suspect signs of masticatory myalgia to get an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

In conclusion, masticatory myalgia is a manageable condition with the right approach toward treatment, self-care, and medical guidance. Always prioritize your health and seek medical help when needed.

About the author

Dr. Patrick Lovegrove