The effect of nonstrenuous aerobic exercise in patients with chronic masticatory myalgia

Cibele Nasri-Heir, Amey G. Patil, Olga A. Korczeniewska, Tal Zusman, Junad Khan, Gary Heir, Rafael Benoliel, Eli Eliav

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Aims: To evaluate the effect of nonstrenuous aerobic exercise on chronic masticatory myalgia (CMM) patients and healthy controls (HC) by means of mechanical temporal summation (TS) and response to mechanical stimulation (RMS) performed on the dominant forearm. Methods: A total of 30 patients diagnosed with CMM and 30 pain-free HCs were first evaluated for maximum number of steps (MNS) on a stepper machine for 1 minute. Additionally, they completed the Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD-7), Graded Chronic Pain Scale (GCPS), and Jaw Functional Limitation Scale (JFL) questionnaires. On the second visit, RMS, mechanical TS, exercise-induced hypoalgesia (EIH), blood pressure, pulse pressure, and heart rate were assessed prior to and immediately, 5, 15, and 30 minutes following 5 minutes of stepper exercise at 50% MNS. Results: Compared to HCs, CMM patients demonstrated increased mechanical TS and less efficient EIH. Mechanical TS scores were reduced in both groups; however, the HC reduction was more robust and persistent. CMM patients demonstrated a delayed reduction in RMS following exercise in contrast to an immediate reduction in HCs. GAD-7, GCPS, and JFL scores for CMM patients were higher than for HCs and were associated with baseline pain intensity but not with EIH or TS. Conclusion: These findings suggest that, compared to HC, CMM patients' pain modulation is both suppressed and has a different effect duration and timing pattern. Further research should explore the mechanisms and clinical relevance of the delayed hypoalgesia and the inhibitory effect on TS induced by nonstrenuous aerobic exercise in CMM patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-152
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Oral and Facial Pain and Headache
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Dentistry (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


  • Exercise
  • Masticatory myalgia
  • Myofascial pain
  • Pain modulation
  • Temporomandibular disorders


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