Does induced masseter muscle pain affect integrated jaw–neck movements similarly in men and women?

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Normal jaw opening–closing involves simultaneous jaw and head–neck movements. We previously showed that, in men, integrated jaw–neck movements during jaw function are altered by induced masseter muscle pain. The aim of this study was to investigate possible sex-related differences in integrated jaw–neck movements following experimental masseter muscle pain. We evaluated head–neck and jaw movements in 22 healthy women and 16 healthy men in a jaw opening–closing task. The participants performed one control trial and one trial with masseter muscle pain induced by injection of hypertonic saline. Jaw and head movements were registered using a three-dimensional optoelectronic recording system. There were no significant sex-related differences in jaw and head movement amplitudes. Head movement amplitudes were significantly greater in the pain trials for both men and women. The proportional involvement of the neck motor system during jaw movements increased in pain trials for 13 of 16 men and for 18 of 22 women. Thus, acute pain may alter integrated jaw–neck movements, although, given the similarities between men and women, this interaction between acute pain and motor behaviour does not explain sex differences in musculoskeletal pain in the jaw and neck regions.

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