Special Interest Section Profile: TMD, Cervical Spine and Orofacial Pain

Name of Section Chair
Marcela Romero Reyes, DDS, PhD, FAHS

Name of Special Interest Section
TMD, Cervical Spine and Orofacial Pain

The American Headache Society is home to a diverse array of Special Interest Sections that connect members with shared expertise and interests to collaborate on research, develop practice models and provide multidisciplinary participation in support of the Society’s overall mission.

The goals of the TMD, Cervical Spine and Orofacial Pain Special Interest Section closely align with the Society’s mission to understand the causes of and treatments for headache disorders. By advancing understanding of headache pathophysiology and orofacial pain, the TMD, Cervical Spine and Orofacial Pain Special Interest Section works to enhance patient care for patients with orofacial pain and educate health care providers about these pain disorders.

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What is the mission of the special interest section?
Our mission is three-fold. Firstly, we want to promote and develop excellent patient care for patients with headache and orofacial pain disorders through a multidisciplinary approach involving neurology and dentistry that is supported by evidence-based research.

Our second goal is to advance our understanding of headache pathophysiology and orofacial pain disorders through translational research. Our section embodies two professions: medicine and dentistry. In neurology, headache medicine and in the orofacial pain field, we see various disorders with different etiologies that are part of the trigeminal system. Our goal is to bring these two professions into closer conversation with one another so that we may further our understanding of the trigeminal system as it relates to both orofacial and head pain.

The final and most important goal of our section is to educate new and existing generations of clinicians and research scientists about orofacial pain disorders. We want to bring an awareness of orofacial pain to the field of headache medicine.

What recent projects has your group been a part of?
Our section is working on multiple projects related to sleep medicine. We are currently investigating sleep apnea and its relationship to headache and temporomandibular disorders (TMD). We are also developing a pre-clinical model for the study of comorbidities of TMD and headache. Our section also organized a pre-clinical course, which was presented at the 60th Annual Scientific Meeting.

What future goals does your special interest section have?
Ultimately, our goal is to better integrate the fields of headache medicine and orofacial pain to enhance patient care, assisting in the diagnosis and management of craniofacial and cervical pains as well as to propose together new research questions and provide better answers for our patients.

How is your group making an impact in the field of headache medicine?
Our most significant impact has been bridging the gap between orofacial pain and headache communities, which started with the work of Steven Graff-Radford, DDS, FAHS. Dr. Graff-Radford––who passed away in 2016––was the first dentist to become a board member of the American Headache Society. He was a dentist trained in pain management who contributed greatly to the field of orofacial pain and headache as a clinician, educator and researcher. His contribution to both fields was profound. He changed the perception of dentistry in the medical community in regards to how TMD is managed.

Our section aims to preserve Dr. Graff-Radford’s legacy and carry out the work he began. One of the ways is through the newly established Steven B. Graff-Radford Lectureship award, which recognizes exemplary contributions to orofacial pain and headache research.

If you are an AHS member who would like to join the TMD, Cervical Spine and Orofacial Pain Special Interest Section, please contact us.

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