What is bruxism? How is it related to the fibromyalgia symptom cluster?


If you have pounding headaches, an aching jaw, and episodes of TMJ – you may be experiencing bruxism. That is easy to fix by itself, but understanding what bruxism symptoms and fibromyalgia mean together is what you need to discover to make your life better.

What is bruxism?

Bruxism is the clinical term for grinding or gnashing of teeth. It most often occurs at night while sleeping, although some people experience it during the day as a compulsive behavior. It is common in children and adults. Bruxism symptoms can include head ache, tooth or jaw pain, TMJ and degraded teeth. A checkup at the dentist can usually determine if bruxism is occurring.

How is it related to the fibromyalgia symptom cluster?

Bruxism symptoms and fibromyalgia work together in two separate ways. For one, the cause of headaches and jaw pain may be from the bruxism and not fibro – so it is something that has to be eliminated in the process of making a diagnosis. If you have fibromyalgia, you may experience bruxism as a result of stress and chronic pain.

Towards a better understanding of fibromyalgia

Science is moving ahead swiftly with an understanding of fibromyalgia. There is still no known cure or cause, but risk factors are being identified and treatment is getting better. Educating yourself about the various symptoms associated with fibromyalgia can help you undo the puzzle for yourself and find ways to improve your quality of life.

Why do people get fibromyalgia?

No one knows what causes fibromyalgia. There are several risks that have been identified that may mean you can develop it. Men and women can develop fibromyalgia after the age of 18, but almost 90 percent of the people diagnosed with it are women. There is a suspicion that hormone levels may play a role in the disease as symptoms tend to abate, but not disappear, after menopause. If you have a family history of fibromyalgia you have a higher risk for it. Your risk also increases if you have arthritis, immune disorders, or have suffered a traumatic brain injury.

How do you treat fibromyalgia?

Treating fibromyalgia isn’t complicated.  There are many medications that can be used to help relieve pain and reduce inflammation. The most recommended course of action is to use pain medication to enable you to then be proactive in pursuing diet and lifestyle changes. There are also very many alternative treatments that are successful with symptom relief as well, including acupuncture. You can’t pursue those changes until you can manage the pain. For this reason it can be advisable to use pain medication in the short term until you are able to manage the symptoms without medication in the long run.

How do you treat bruxism?

Bruxism is rarely treated with medication or surgery. Very often, if the symptoms are severe, you may be briefly given a prescription for a muscle relaxant while you implement other changes in your life. This will give you the chance to use all of the resources you have to identify the cause of your bruxism. Even if the cause of your bruxism is your fibromyalgia, knowing that helps you identify a course of action that doesn’t involve even more medications. Your dentist may prescribe a night guard to help protect your teeth while you engage in different waking actions to change the stress levels you sleep with at night.

Using all the resources you have

When you want to avoid fibromyalgia flare ups – you need to take care of your emotional needs. These needs all induce stress and stress reactions. This can aggravate you fibromyalgia and cause a flare up of your bruxism too. Not only can fibromyalgia flare ups cause stress because they can be debilitating, which can increase pressures on personal and work relationships; living with chronic pain is enormously stressful. If you are also dealing with a life full of responsibilities – it is time to be proactive and look to what you can do to start reducing stress and its effect on your life and health.

It is important to remember that not all stress comes from pain and bad things; starting a new relationship, starting a new job or project that you really want – all of these create a form of stress called “eustress.” Eustress is the term to indicate that the source of the stress is positive, and stress from negative things in your life is called “distress.” Eustress and distress both create a negative effect from the physical reaction to any type of stress in your life.

In other words, your body doesn’t change how it reacts to stress because it can’t tell the difference between being asked out by your crush and having to cancel a workday due to a flare up. Bruxism is most commonly associated with high levels of stress in adult life. Changes to your diet, exercising more, and seeking counseling support can all work together to reduce your stress.

Exploring new treatment options responsibly

Another way to keep your stress in check so you can reduce your instances of bruxism is to stay open to new treatments and lifestyle changes to help your fibromyalgia. What science is discovering about this disease is growing and changing every day. You want to keep trying new things to make sure that you always are ready to take advantage of an opportunity to improve your life.

Keeping your eye on the prize

The prize is to stop fibromyalgia from affecting your life in negative ways. Getting bruxism to stop is one thing you have a lot of control over. If you have bruxism and fibromyalgia don’t assume you are just stuck with them and things will just keep getting worse. Talk to your doctor, explore alternative treatments and choose to be proactive in making your life better. Remember, that for many women, their symptoms often abate with the onset of menopause so you can also look forward to that.


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