Jaw claudication is unilateral or bilateral intermittent pain or discomfort in the jaw precipitated by chewing, talking or other use of the jaws.


The pain is caused by ischemia in the muscles of mastication.


Findings may include:

(1) absence of pain when starting to chew

(2) absence of pain with soft foods

(3) onset of pain after prolonged chewing of tougher foods


Causes of jaw claudication:

(1) temporal (giant cell) arteritis

(2) other forms of vasculitis

(3) atherosclerosis of the external carotid artery proximal to the origins of the facial and maxillary branches


Henriet et al localized vascular involvement to the internal maxillary artery. This is the blood supply to the masseter muscles. Ultrasound examination can be performed at the ptergyo-maxillary fossa.


Differential diagnosis:

(1) parotid tumor

(2) myasthenia gravis

(3) temporomandibular joint disease

(4) tooth disease


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