TMJ vs. Seizure/Epilepsy

This is the main focus of the research underway by the Canine Epilepsy Research Consortium. Some of your questions may not have clear answers at this time, but ask them anyway!

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TMJ vs. Seizure/Epilepsy

Post by TomKraus » Mon Nov 26, 2001 6:00 pm

To anyone's knowledge, have there been studies between TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder) and Epilepsy? The reason why I am asking is I know of a Siberian Husky who exhibited symptoms of what I would call a focal seizure but was quickly dismissed by a vet as TMJ.
The bitch was 2.5 years old at her first couple of episodes and 3 at her latest one. She will typically have an episode, as best I can figure, in situations where she appears stressed or unsure. The first couple were when she was traveling with us to dog shows, and lastly regular checkup at a vet's office.
Each episode has typically lasted between 1-3 minutes where she begins to look withdrawn, her head starts shaking, quickly followed by a 'locked' open jaw with immediate excessive salivation. Her pupils have gone from pin dots to full dialation. She will typically shake her head from side to side a couple of times before just sitting in a daze for the remainder and then suddenly 'snap' out of it. She quickly returns to a near normal state responding to her name and wagging her tail.

I have seen dogs that have had both TMJ and classic to focal epilepsy episode. Are there correlations between the two or are they totally different. To the best of my knowledge, both the sire and dam of this litter, littermates to this bitch, and other offspring from the sire and dam have not exhibitted seizures.

As a side note, had I been there for the last episode that ocurred at the vet's office, I would have insisted on immediate tests being performed.
Thanks for any assistance,

[This message has been edited by TomKraus (edited 11-26-2001).]

Ned Patterson DVM
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Post by Ned Patterson DVM » Tue Nov 27, 2001 12:45 pm


I am not aware of any association between TMJ and 'true" seizures. The problem with partial or focal seizures is that other processes can cause signs similar to partial seizures (pain, fear, cold, nausea, behavior etc.) that are not actual seiuzures. In these circumstances it is often difficult to differentiate tue seizures form other processes. In people an EEG would be performed, but unfortunately most dogs need to be sedated to still thorugh an EEG and the sedation makes it difficult to interpret the results, and therefore EEG's are not routinely done for dogs.

In the dog you are talking about it might be hard to differentiate true partial seizures from these signs being induced by TMJ pain.

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