stem cells and TMJ pain

Stem Cells and TMJ Pain

Category: Blog

A new study shows how stem cells can repair the cartilage and bone damage associated with TMJ related pain.

A paper published in the October 16, 2017, edition of the medical journal Stem Cells International says that stem cells can help TMJ patients by forming cartilage and bone in osteoarthritis damaged temporomandibular joints.

In the paper, temporomandibular joint osteoarthritis is described as a degenerative disease, characterized by progressive cartilage degradation, subchondral bone remodeling (this is the bone under the cartilage trying to repair itself), synovitis (inflammation of the synovial tissue of the joint), and chronic pain.

How May Stem Cells Help?

In recent years, stem cell-based therapy has raised much attention as an alternative approach towards tissue repair and regeneration. Mesenchymal stem cells, derived from the bone marrow, synovium, and even umbilical cord, play a role as seed cells for the cartilage regeneration of temporomandibular joint osteoarthritis.

Mesenchymal stem cells possess multilineage differentiation potential, including chondrogenic differentiation as well as osteogenic differentiation. This means that the stem cells can convert themselves into the building blocks of cartilage and bone.

The study concludes that: “Given the limited self-healing potentials of avascular cartilage, little effective therapy is available for the repair of normal TMJ tissues in osteoarthritis disease. Although the conventional nonsurgical or surgical treatments can relieve the joint pain to some extent, they cannot completely restore the TMJ function and reverse disease progression. Mesenchymal stem cells. . . may provide an alternative treatment for the cartilage degradation in TMJ osteoarthritis.”1

More About TMJ

TMJ is a condition we have treated effectively for many years. But sometimes patients with TMJ present more than jaw pain.

Many cases of jaw and facial pain and headache unresponsive to traditional measures such as analgesics, night guards, bite plates, or antibiotics for sinusitis can be traced to the occiput, cervical facet joints, cervical interspinous ligaments, and the trapezium.

Patients should be fully evaluated by physical examination including but not limited to the strength of the arm and hands, the integrity of the cranial nerves, sensory nerves, and deep tendon reflexes, and range of motion of the neck. Furthermore, careful evaluation of the cervical facets, occiput, interspinous ligaments, and trapezium should be performed by a physician skilled in diagnosis and treatment of such injuries. Injury in the latter regions caused either by trauma, overuse, or degeneration is often responsible for causing headaches, jaw aches, and facial pain.

Cervicocranial syndrome (Barre-Lieou syndrome) can also occur from injury to the cervical facet joints. This syndrome is often manifest by a variety of findings such as vertigo, tinnitus, visual blurring, nasal stuffiness, and facial numbness.

If you suffer from jaw, facial, neck or headache pain, contact our office and see if you are a candidate for our treatments. At the Magaziner Center for Wellness, we can fully assess your condition and find the best course of treatment to help you.



1 Cui, D., Li, H., Xu, X., Ye, L., Zhou, X., Zheng, L., & Zhou, Y. (2017). Mesenchymal Stem Cells for Cartilage Regeneration of TMJ Osteoarthritis. Stem Cells International, 2017, 5979741.