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Muscle Spasms In TMJ

Dear Patients and Colleagues,

Much has been written about the temporomandibular joint and its myriad symptoms which occur when the joint is unhealthy. Recently a colleague queried about a patient of his who was experiencing muscle spasms in addition to her joint pain. I replied that the phenomenon is known as arthrokinetic reflex1. When a TMJ has internal derangement it will undergo a protective response by its supporting muscular system. This arthrokinetic reflex causes muscular spasms which result in muscular pain.

This continuous muscle activity provoked by the disc displacement will cease when the disc position is normalized. This gives credence to one of our treatment goals of recapturing the disc2. Although some patients can achieve relief of symptoms by joint repositioning, most clinicians strive for disc recapturing.

As a practicing clinician I strive to bring evidence based knowledge to my patients and colleagues. To that end I will strive to identify my resources at the end of my paper.


Michael W. Dagostino, DDS.

1. Bertolucci L. The Trilogy of the "Triad of O'Donoghue"
Journal of Craniomandibular Practice 1990 8:265

2. Isherg A. Clinical Radiographic and Electromyography Study of Patients With Internal Derangement
American Journal of Orthodontics 1985 88:453-460

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