medwireNews: Headache and orofacial pain have a surprisingly high prevalence in the general Brazilian population, affecting more than half of 890 people interviewed in a study.
Of concern, people with headache and orofacial pain typically also reported chronic comorbidities, reduced general wellbeing, and need for medication.
"The aetiological factors associated with these findings need further investigation to establish the needs of assessment and treatment," write Silvia Regina de Siqueira (University of São Paulo, Brazil) and colleagues, who conducted the research.
The team used a population-based cross-sectional design to investigate the epidemiologic characteristics of headache and orofacial pain in Brazilian adults living in São Paulo. A total of 505 people aged 18-59 years ("adults") and 385 people aged 60 years and over ("elders") were interviewed using a validated questionnaire.
The overall prevalence of any head and facial pain within the past 6 months was 55.5% (45.3% of adults and 56.6% of elders). The most common complaint was headache (41.1%), followed by bruxism (10.6%), toothache (10.2%), and facial pain (7.7%).
Within the subset reporting pain, 48.6% of adults and 58.7% of elders said they experienced impairments in daily activities due to their pain.
Pain was significantly more prevalent in women than in men. The prevalence of pain was significantly associated with comorbidities (namely, hypertension, diabetes, back pain, chronic nephropathy, depression, osteoporosis, heart disease, chronic pulmonary disease, and chronic digestive disease) and with the use of medications (namely, any chronic medication, analgesics, and anti-inflammatories).
Finally, people with pain reported experiencing significantly poorer general health and less satisfaction with their daily activities, and tended to have a lower overall quality of life than those without pain.
Taken together, these findings suggest that head and orofacial pain are common in the general Brazilian population and have a detrimental impact on people's quality of life.
"In this population, there were multiple complaints such as fatigue, difficulty in mouth opening and bruxism that can be associated with musculoskeletal conditions [such] as [temporomandibular disorders]," remark de Siqueira et al in Gerodontology. "Thus, it is possible that this could be one of the main diagnoses in this sample."
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