The mylohyoid is one of the muscles found in the head and neck region of the human body. This muscle begins at the mandible, also known as the jawbone. From the mandible, the mylohyoid travels to the hyoid bone between the chin and the neck. The mylohyoid muscle is instrumental to the formation of the floor of the mouth.
The mylohyoid is a flat muscle that is shaped in the form of a triangle. It lies just above the front portion of the digastric muscle. The mylohyoid nerve is a branch of the trigeminal nerve and provides the nerve supply to the mylohyoid muscle.
The function of the mylohyoid is to depress the jawbone while elevating the hyoid bone. The mouth and tongue are also elevated by this muscle. This becomes of particular importance when performing actions such as speaking or swallowing. The mylohyoid muscles on each side work to form a structure similar to a sling. This is what creates the strength of the floor of the mouth, also referred to as the oral cavity.
Temporomandibular joint syndrome, more commonly known as TMJ, is a condition often affecting the mylohyoid. This condition is known for causing moderate to severe pain, particularly in the head, face, and neck. TMJ can be caused by trauma to the area as well as by natural causes, such as arthritis or teeth grinding. Treatments range from the use of a warm compress to being fit with a dental device to prevent clenching of the jaw or teeth grinding. Rarely, surgery may be indicated in order to alleviate the pain.
Myofascial pain syndrome is also known to affect the muscles used for chewing, including the mylohyoid. Myofascial pain tends to affect entire muscle groups, although it can affect a single muscle. In this condition, the fascia, which is a type of connective tissue covering the muscles, becomes compromised. This medical condition is sometimes difficult to accurately diagnose since there is a tendency to develop what is known as referred pain. This means that trigger points are present which can cause pain in areas other than those suffering a direct injury.
Fibromyalgia is yet another condition causing widespread muscle pain. Pain in the face and neck areas is widely reported with this condition. The exact cause of this condition is not known. Therefore, treatment is aimed at relieving individual symptoms. Physical therapy, stress management, and medications are often used to combat the pain caused by this ailment.