Orofacial pain: just another chronic pain? Results from a population-based survey

Tatiana V Macfarlane, Anthony S Blinkhorn, Robin M Davies, Philip Ryan, Helen V Worthington, Gary J Macfarlane
Pain 2002, 99 (3): 453-8
Features of somatisation have been shown to predict the onset of widespread body pain. This study aims to determine to what extent persons with orofacial pain syndromes share these features and to what extent they are uniquely related to oral mechanical factors. We have conducted a population-based cross-sectional survey in the South-East Cheshire area of the United Kingdom involving 2504 individuals aged 18-65 years. All participants completed a postal questionnaire which enquired about the occurrence of both orofacial pain and widespread body pain. It also enquired about potential risk factors for one or both conditions. In total, 473 subjects (23%) reported orofacial pain only, 123 (6%) widespread pain only, while 85 (4%) reported both. The number reporting both was significantly higher than would be expected if the symptoms were independent (P<0.001). Several oral mechanical factors were significantly associated with both orofacial pain and widespread body pain (grinding teeth, clicking jaw, missing teeth), while two (facial trauma, locking jaw) were specifically related to orofacial pain. Both pain syndromes were associated equally with high levels of psychological distress, indicators of somatisation and maladaptive response to illness. These results suggest that orofacial pain syndromes may commonly be a manifestation of the process of somatisation and the excess reporting of some local mechanical factors amongst persons with these symptoms, may not be uniquely associated with pain in the orofacial region.

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