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J Oral Rehabil. 2009 May;36(5):313-21. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2842.2008.01932.x. Epub 2009 Feb 6.

The impact of stress and anxiety on the pressure pain threshold of myofascial pain patients.

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Department of Prosthodontics, Bauru School of Dentistry, University of São Paulo, Bauru, Brazil.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the influence of stress and anxiety on the pressure pain threshold (PPT) of masticatory muscles and on the subjective pain report. Forty-five women, students, with mean age of 19.75 years, were divided into two groups: group 1:29 presenting with masticatory myofascial pain (MFP), according to the Research Diagnostic Criteria for Temporomandibular Disorders and group 2: 16 asymptomatic controls. An electronic algometer registered the pain thresholds on four different occasions throughout the academic year. To measure levels of stress, anxiety and pain, the Beck Anxiety Inventory, Lipp Stress Symptoms Inventory and Visual Analog Scale (VAS) were used. Three-way anova and Tukey's tests were used to verify differences in PPT between groups, times and sites. Levels of anxiety and VAS were compared using Mann-Whitney test, while Friedman's test was used for the within-groups comparison at different times (T1 to T4). The chi-squared and Cochran tests were performed to compare groups for the proportion of subjects with stress (alpha = 0.05). Differences in PPT recordings between time (P = 0.001) and sites (P < 0.001) were detected. Higher levels of anxiety and lower PPT figures were detected at T2 (academic examination) (P = 0.001). There was no difference between groups for anxiety and stress at any time (P > 0.05). The MFP group also has shown significant increase of VAS at the time of academic examination (P < 0.001). External stressors such as academic examinations have a potential impact on masticatory muscle tenderness, regardless of the presence of a previous condition such as masticatory myofascial pain.

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