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, 12 (11 Suppl), T61-74

Pain Sensitivity Risk Factors for Chronic TMD: Descriptive Data and Empirically Identified Domains From the OPPERA Case Control Study


Pain Sensitivity Risk Factors for Chronic TMD: Descriptive Data and Empirically Identified Domains From the OPPERA Case Control Study

Joel D Greenspan et al. J Pain.


Many studies report that people with temporomandibular disorders (TMD) are more sensitive to experimental pain stimuli than TMD-free controls. Such differences in sensitivity are observed in remote body sites as well as in the orofacial region, suggesting a generalized upregulation of nociceptive processing in TMD cases. This large case-control study of 185 adults with TMD and 1,633 TMD-free controls measured sensitivity to painful pressure, mechanical cutaneous, and heat stimuli, using multiple testing protocols. Based on an unprecedented 36 experimental pain measures, 28 showed statistically significantly greater pain sensitivity in TMD cases than controls. The largest effects were seen for pressure pain thresholds at multiple body sites and cutaneous mechanical pain threshold. The other mechanical cutaneous pain measures and many of the heat pain measures showed significant differences, but with lesser effect sizes. Principal component analysis (PCA) of the pain measures derived from 1,633 controls identified 5 components labeled: 1) heat pain ratings; 2) heat pain aftersensations and tolerance; 3) mechanical cutaneous pain sensitivity; 4) pressure pain thresholds; and 5) heat pain temporal summation. These results demonstrate that compared to TMD-free controls, chronic TMD cases are more sensitive to many experimental noxious stimuli at extracranial body sites, and provide for the first time the ability to directly compare the case-control effect sizes of a wide range of pain sensitivity measures.

Perspective: This article describes experimental pain sensitivity differences between a large sample of people with chronic TMD and non-TMD controls, using multiple stimulus modalities and measures. Variability in the magnitude and consistency of case-control differences highlight the need to consider multiple testing measures to adequately assess pain processing alterations in chronic pain conditions.

Conflict of interest statement


Richard Ohrbach, Joel Greenspan, Charles Knott, Ronald Dubner, Eric Bair, Flora Mulkey and Rebecca Rothwell declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Components resulting from PCA (vertical bars) and parallel analysis (trianges) conducted on data from control participants.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Ratings of individual heat stimuli (0–100 scale) presented at three different temperatures, ten times each. Solid lines – TMD cases; dashed lines – controls.

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