It’s pretty safe to say most of us experience physical pain in some form at some time in our life. Whether it’s the sting of a paper cut to a broken bone or migraine headache, different problems cause different levels of pain. For some, pain is a minor nuisance and can be shrugged off, while others who experience the exact same paper cut or stubbed toe may experience that pain more intensely. That is your pain threshold, and for some people, it’s higher than others.
According to researchers, however, there could be an explanation for this, especially when it comes to temporomandibular joint dysfunction, or TMD. Temporomandibular joint dysfunction occurs when the temporomandibular joint of the jaw becomes misaligned from the jaw socket, causing it to pop in and out of the socket when the lower jaw is moved. This can occur during chewing, speaking, or even simply breathing!
Now, a new study out of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has found that adults with temporomandibular joint dysfunction who have a higher omega-6/omega-3 PUFA ratio may have a lower pain threshold when it comes to temporomandibular joint dysfunction!
In fact, the authors of the study have stated “Our own studies showed that adults with a higher n-6/n-3 long-chain PUFA ratio in erythrocytes had lower pressure pain thresholds, greater psychological distress, and higher odds of chronic TMD”.
So, what does it all mean? Well it means that adults with a diet high in polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) may have a lower pain threshold than those with lower PUFA diets. This in turn can make painful conditions like temporomandibular joint dysfunction feel more painful, and thus worse.
To combat this, the researchers suggest making dietary alterations may help in reducing pain associated with temporomandibular joint dysfunction. Eating a lower-fat diet, not smoking, and reducing the amount of polyunsaturated fats in your diet may be useful to those with temporomandibular joint dysfunction.
Furthermore, for those suffering from temporomandibular joint dysfunction, medical intervention may be necessary to realign the jaw and eliminate pain altogether. If you suffer from temporomandibular joint dysfunction or suspect that you could suffer from this painful condition, please reach out to Dr. Abelar’s office for a consultation today!