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Papers of the Week

Papers: 18 Jul 2020 - 24 Jul 2020

Human Studies

2020 Aug




Structural abnormalities in the temporalis musculo-aponeurotic complex in chronic muscular temporomandibular disorders.


Moayedi M, Krishnamoorthy G, He P-Y T, Agur A, Weissman-Fogel I, Tenenbaum HC, Lam EWN, Davis KD, Henderson L, Cioffi I
Pain. 2020 Aug; 161(8):1787-1797.
PMID: 32701839.


Some forms of chronic pain are thought to be driven and maintained by nociceptive input, which can drive plasticity within nociceptive pathways. We have previously identified abnormalities along the entire nociceptive pathway in chronic myalgic temporomandibular disorders (mTMD), including the trigeminal nerves, brainstem pathways, and in the thalamus and somatosensory cortex. These data suggest that there is a peripheral nociceptive drive in mTMD, but the source of this nociceptive activity remains unknown. Here, our aim was to determine whether structural abnormalities exist in the muscles of mastication of patients with chronic mTMD. Specifically, we tested whether the volume of the temporalis muscle and its tendon-aponeurosis complex (TAC, a structure that dissipates forces in a muscle) in mTMD patients differ compared to age- and sex-matched controls. To do so, we segmented these structures on T1-weighted structural magnetic resonance images. We found that muscle volumes in mTMD were not different to controls. However, the mTMD group had significantly smaller volumes of the bilateral temporalis TAC, and thus a smaller TAC-to-muscle volume ratio. These findings were consistent across 2 independent cohorts of 17 mTMD patients, compared to 17 age- and sex-matched controls. We propose a model where reduced TAC-to-muscle ratio could result in a predisposition to muscle tissue injury. In sum, abnormalities of the temporalis muscles in mTMD supports our hypothesis that chronic mTMD pathophysiology may be related to peripheral nociceptive barrage originating from the muscles of mastication.