Myofascial pain in temporomandibular disorders: Updates on etiopathogenesis and management


Diagnostic Sciences

Document Type


Publication Title

Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies







First Page


Last Page


Publication Date



Objectives: Temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) are an umbrella term encompassing disorders of both the temporomandibular joint (TMJD) and masticatory musculature (MMD). The objective of this review is to provide an overview of the etiopathogenesis, clinical features and diagnosis of MMD, and to summarize the current trends in the therapeutic management. Mathods: A review of the literature was performed from 1985 to 2020. The keywords included were “temporomandibular disorders OR temporomandibular joint disorders” AND “myofascial pain OR masticatory myofascial pain OR trigger point”. A total of 983 articles were screened with abstracts and approximately 500 full text articles were included in the review based on their relevance to the topic. Results: MMD's present significant challenges in diagnosis and treatment. Effective treatment requires a clear diagnosis based on an understanding of pathophysiologic mechanisms, a detailed history with assessment of predisposing local and systemic factors, perpetuating factors, a comprehensive clinical evaluation and a diagnostic workup. Conclusion: A thorough history and clinical examination are the gold standards for diagnosis of MMD. Serological testing may help identify underlying co-morbidities. Recent diagnostic modalities including ultrasound sonoelastography and magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) have shown promising results. The treatment goals for MMD are to control pain, restore mandibular function and facilitate the return to normal daily activity and improve the overall quality of life of a patient. Conservative modalities including home care regimens, pharmacotherapy, intraoral appliance therapy, local anesthetic trigger point injections, physiotherapy and complementary modalities may be beneficial in patients with MMD's.