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Understanding Myofascial Pain Dysfunction (MPD) PDF Print E-mail
Myofascial Pain Dysfunction (MPD) is the term used when there is dysfunction within the voluntary muscles of the head, jaw, neck, shoulder area and the tissues that encase these muscles. Over a prolonged period of time, the muscles maintain themselves in an altered state of hyperfunction which is perceived in the brain as a "balanced position."

Causes of MPD:

The first basic cause is an abnormal relationship of the upper jaw and teeth to the lower jaw and teeth. In order for all the teeth to mesh together the best way they can, associated muscles of the lower jaw must continually be activated. Soon the brain programs the muscles into a state of hyperfunction. Remember, the priority of the brain is to fit the teeth together at the expense of the muscles and jaw joints. Ultimately, this hypermuscle function leads to MPD.

The second cause of MPD is stress (or better stated "distress") from a continually stressful environment. All of us are exposed to stress daily. While most of us respond in positive ways to allow the body/mind to handle stress without going into distress, prolonged and constant overload ultimately results in the body’s distress. Then the mind inputs the stress into muscular contractions that tighten jaw and neck muscles. For instance, a clenched jaw is a response to stress. MPD sufferers maintain a forward head position and muscles of the head, neck and shoulders are tender and sore due to their unbalanced position.

Associated causes that support these 2 basic causes include:
  • Poor nutrition
  • Lack of exercise
  • Trauma to the jaw joint
  • Poor sleeping habits
  • Psychological problems
Treatment of MPD:

Treatment of MPD usually entails the use of a jaw splint that allows the muscles of chewing to relax and function in a new "correct" bite. The splint is usually worn 24 hours a day and when eating (when the teeth/jaw are used most). It is only removed for cleaning.

Biofeedback and stress management training is initiated as indicated. Physical therapy is usually suggested to relieve the symptoms of MPD and bring the head, neck and facial muscles back into a normal balanced position.

Source: TMData Resources

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