Cheek Bone Diseases

Many diseases can affect the cheek bones. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health or NIH, face pain—which includes cheek pain—can be dull and throbbing or intense and stabbing, and it can be felt on one or both sides of the face. The NIH states that face pain may manifest for no apparent reason, or it may be caused by a nerve disorder, trauma or infection. Sometimes problems arise in the zygomatic bone or the other bones that help form the cheek.

A pretty woman with high cheekbones. (Image: Homofaber/iStock/Getty Images)

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

Temporomandibular joint disorder is a disease associated with the cheek bones. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research or NIDCR, a division of the National Institutes of Health, temporomandibular joint disorder or TMD is a condition that causes face pain and jaw dysfunction. The NIDCR estimates that over 10 million Americans are affected by TMD which is more common in women than men.

The temporomandibular joint connects the lower jaw to the skull's temporal bone. Derangement or damage to the disc in the temporomandibular joint can involve a displaced disc, dislocated jaw or injury to the condyle—the bony prominence that allows the jaw to articulate with the skull.

Common signs and symptoms associated with TMD include the following: pain that radiates or spreads from the temporomandibular joint into the face, jaw or neck, jaw muscle stiffness, jaw locking and clicking, popping or grinding in the temporomandibular joint when a person opens or closes her mouth.

Burkitt's Lymphoma

Burkitt's lymphoma is another disease associated with the cheek bones. The National Cancer Institute or NCI—a division of the National Institutes of Health—notes that Burkitt's lymphoma is a B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which means that the cancer affects the body's B lymphocytes. B lymphocytes help protect a person against bacteria or viruses by creating antibodies. There are several types of Burkitt's lymphoma, including the endemic variant, which is found in equatorial Africa. According to Drs. Ramzi S. Cotran, Vinay Kumar and Tucker Collins, co-authors of the textbook "Pathologic Basis of Disease," the endemic variant of Burkitt's lymphoma is aggressive and often manifests in the mandible or other facial bones, along with the kidneys, ovaries and adrenals. The endemic variant of Burkitt's lymphoma is the most common cancer seen among children in equatorial Africa. Cotran and colleagues note that Burkitt's lymphoma responds well to short-term, high-dose chemotherapy.


According to the Cleveland Clinic, one of the top four hospitals in the United States, osteomyelitis is an acute or chronic infection of the bone that affects about one in every 10,000 people. Osteomyelitis can affect the cheek bones and may be caused by a variety of microbial agents, including staphylococcus aureus. If left untreated, osteomyelitis can cause reduced blood supply to the involved bone, which can cause the bone tissue to die. The Cleveland Clinic states that osteomyelitis affects both children and adults. Certain people are more vulnerable to osteomyelitis, including diabetics, patients receiving hemodialysis, people with compromised immune systems, people with sickle cell disease, intravenous drug users and elderly individuals. Common symptoms associated with osteomyelitis include the following pain, swelling and warmth in the affected area, fever, nausea, excessive sweating, chills and pus draining through the skin.

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