Frequently Asked Questions

answered by Dr. Henning Madsen

Frequently asked questions

How Long Does CMD Last?

Normally, CMD is benign and self-limiting which means that the symptoms mostly disappear again without any treatment. Pain in the chewing muscles and jaw joint usually decreases spontaneously after a few days without any treatment being necessary.

But in some rare cases there can be longer persistent symptoms. The strongest risk factors for such long-term symptoms – so-called chronification – are psychological. These factors include depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress and somatization which describes a tendency to react to mental impulses with physical symptoms. Unfortunately, people like to overlook the strong psychological basis behind chronic CMD: and this goes both for the doctors who do not want to let themselves venture into the difficult territory of mental disorders and for the patients who are afraid that they will be classified as a mental case and will therefore no longer be treated seriously. Both aspects lead to a gross misapprehension: doctors who do not take into account the psychological dimension of chronic pain will often fail in their treatment and patients, who hide this dimension and do not want to acknowledge it, have worse prospects of any improvement in their symptoms.

Can the Jaw Joint Cause a Permanent Handicap?

Painful symptoms in the jaw joint and the chewing muscles usually disappear again without any treatment. Permanent, chronic symptoms associated with a chewing muscle or jaw joint diagnosis are very rare. Whilst arthrosis of the hip can put a person in a wheelchair, arthrosis of the jaw in middle-aged people is a common and generally harmless occurrence. So patients with CMD can basically relax and just wait for their symptoms to suddenly disappear. Where required, treatment can help this process but this is only really necessary if patients request it.

Psychological factors such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress and somatization are often behind chronification which is actually quite rare. This background must be taken into account during diagnosis and treatment but, unfortunately, this often does not happen.


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