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Myasthenia Gravis

Weakness of Jaw Muscles

09/06/2002

Question:

I used to dance ballet and ride and take care of my own horse. So I know what "true" muscle fatigue feels like. This is not an "oh dear, I`m tired" type of fatigue. With what other diseases will the jaw muscles go weak from chewing or talking?

Answer:

Let me first comment on the term "fatigue". I define fatigue as a decreased ability to maintain a level of muscle force generation. This occurs in MG from the nerve and muscle communication problem, which is VERY different from the fatigue produced by a strenous ballet session (this is caused by metabolic alteration of the muscle fibers). These are different from becoming fatigued from mental activity (for example spending 10 hours writing a grant application). A patient can use the term fatigue in any of these situations. Isolated jaw WEAKNESS without pain produced by activity is usually myasthenia. With pain, I consider problems in the joint or dentition. One could consider muscle problems if there were symptoms involving other muscle groups. 

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Response by:

Henry J Kaminski, MD Henry J Kaminski, MD
Formerly, Professor of Neurology
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University