Norman F Capra, PhD, MS
|Neural & Pain Sciences|
My laboratory was the first to correctly identify the location and central connections of sensory nerves that supply the temporomandibular (TMJ). The innervation of the TMJ and the surrounding muscles of mastication figure prominently in temporomandibular disorders and other chronic orofacial pain conditions and have been the subject of my research for over twenty years. Chronic pain impacts on movement patterns that we need to survive (e.g. chewing and swallowing) in spite of intense discomfort often so great that sufferers lack the motivation to work and provide for their families. Current studies in the laboratory explore the effects of muscle pain on the oral motor system. A better understanding the basic physiology, pathophysiology and pharmacology of trigeminal sensory and motor neurons that control the face and jaw muscles will provide important new insights into the causes and prevention of a number of pain conditions ranging from the simple “tension headache” to common but poorly understood phenomena such as “trigger points” and “taut bands”. The use of models developed in our laboratory combined with basic neurophysiological studies provide a promising environment for identification and testing of new therapies, evolution of logical treatment planning, and enhanced knowledge of nervous system function.