Orofacial pain has not been directly linked to specific genetic factors. While no single cause of orofascial pain has been determined, the known potential sources of orofascial pain points to groups at higher risk of experiencing orofascial pain syndrome:
- Women: Orofacial trigger points are more likely to be active in women than in men, with 55 percent of women having latent trigger points, compared to 45 percent in men. The reason for this is unknown, however it is not believed that women and men experience pain differently or measure pain based on different scales.
- Middle-age adults: Chronic orofascial pain most frequently develops during middle age. At younger ages, it’s believed that muscles are better able to cope with the strain of stress and overuse.
- Injured: Injury, trauma or illness increases the odds of developing or activating orofascial trigger points.
- Those who are stressed: An individual may aggravate a orofascial trigger point as a result of stress or anxiety that leads to increased muscle tension.
- Those who are inactive: A sedentary lifestyle or significant time spent in poor posture, such as at a desk, can weaken and strain muscles, making the occurrence of a orofascial trigger point more likely.
Overall physical health lowers risk factors associated with orofascial pain symptoms. Having well conditioned strong muscles that can easily handle everyday activities puts an individual at lower risk of the condition. Likewise, the absence of injury, which tightens muscles and makes activity difficult without fatigue or pain, lessens the likelihood of experiencing orofascial pain.
While diet does not directly link to orofascial pain syndrome, overweight individuals are at higher risk as muscles are strained to carry the body’s mass. Removing stressful factors from one’s life can also decrease the risk of orofascial pain, as muscles are prone to tension and tightness as a result of stress.
While everyone carries some risk of experiencing orofascial pain symptoms, by improving physical and mental health in general and on multiple dimensions, risk factors for orofascial pain can be reduced.