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Ann Acad Med Singapore. 1995 Jan;24(1):124-8.

Temporal headaches and associated symptoms relating to the styloid process and its attachments.

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Head and Neck Pain Center, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.


The styloid process is a slender spike-like bony process that is attached to the base of the skull that has been of interest to physicians for centuries. From this process is the attachment for five structures--three muscles and two ligaments are attached to it. Any of these soft tissues of the styloid process are prone to be torn due to trauma by way of detachment of the periosteum from the bone. These lesions may occur from auto accidents, falls, sports injuries, to prolonged medical or dental procedures requiring excessive mouth opening. The detachment of Sharpey's fibres results in the release of noxious chemicals such as kinins, histamines, prostaglandins, etc, which can produce a withdrawal reflex, causing muscle tension, ischaemia, spasm and pain. Pain transmission via C fibres may induce a host of autonomic responses as well. We have observed 11 common pains and symptoms that are associated with soft tissue lesions of the styloid process and stylomandibular ligament. They are (1) headaches localised in the anterior temporal fossa, (2) sore throat and difficulty swallowing in the absence of inflammation, (3) pain radiating to the temporomandibular joint and ear, (4) voice alteration, (5) dry, non-productive cough, (6) pain in the masseter muscle, (7) restricted mandibular opening or the "closed lock", (8) development of the "open lock", (9) sinusitis, congested stuffy nose or post nasal drip, (10) tinnitus, and (11) excessive lacrimation and bloodshot eyes. A few drops of local anesthetic into the styloid process and stylomandibular ligament attachment can temporarily relieve the pain and symptoms.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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