Characterization of Salivary Gland Pain: A Review of the Literature

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Marcelo Mancilla; Veronica Iturriaga; Javiera Muñoz; Hugo Landaeta; Nicol Velasquez & Thomas Bornhardt


The salivary glands in pathological conditions produce countless different clinical presentations, and due to their complex neuroanatomy, their pain symptoms vary widely. However, in the literature to date, few studies characterize salivary gland pain. The aim of this study was to conduct a literature review concerning the clinical characteristics of pain in various salivary gland pathologies. A literature review was done through a systematic search of scientific articles in the Web of Science (WoS), MEDLINE, Scopus, and Elton B. Stephens Company (EBSCO) databases. The free terms “salivary gland”, “parotid gland”, “submaxillary gland”, “sublingual gland”, and “pain” were used along with the Boolean operators OR and AND. The search yielded a total of 1896 articles, of which 60 fulfilled the inclusion criteria and were ultimately included in this review. It is described that pain is a nonspecific symptom of a glandular pathology and is characterized mainly by the location of the pain, which is correlated with the anatomical location of the affected salivary gland. Among the painful salivary gland pathologies, we found inflammatory disorders, including infections, obstructions, disorders secondary to hyposalivation; systemic autoimmune diseases; neoplasms, and neuropathic pain disorders. The diagnosis and management of salivary gland pain require knowledge of the causes and mechanisms of the pain, and it is to recognize the signs and symptoms of salivary gland disorders to be able to diagnose and treat them.

KEY WORDS: Salivary glands; Salivary gland diseases; Salivary gland pain; Facial pain; Orofacial pain.

How to cite this article

MANCILLA, M.; ITURRIAGA, V.; MUÑOZ, J.; LANDAETA, H.; VELASQUEZ, N.; BORNHARDT, T. Characterization of salivary gland pain: A review of the literature. Int. J. Morphol., 41(5):1364-1371, 2023.