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Chiropractic Research Review

Chiropractic Care for Temporomandibular Disorders

Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) refers to conditions that adversely affect the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) or surrounding musculature. TMD symptoms include jaw pain, limited jaw range of motion or mandibular function, and noises from within the TMJ.

Approximately 10 million Americans experience clinical symptoms of TMD; however, treatments are often nonspecific, palliative and have been generally ineffective or not well-established.

Nine participants with articular TMD were enrolled in this study over a three-month period; eight participants completed the study. Participants were seen three times a week for two weeks and according to individual progress for six weeks thereafter in a private chiropractic office setting. Participants' ages ranged from 21-47 with a median age of 27; the median self-reported duration of symptoms was eight years, ranging from one to 40 years. Participants were evaluated using the protocol of Activator Methods, International, on each visit for the whole spine and for the TMJ. Only patients with articular disorders of the TMJ (not muscular disorders) were included in the study.

Following the treatments, researchers noted maximum mouth opening improved in all eight participants completing the study. Visual analog scale (VAS) measurements improved in seven participants and participants reported a decrease in pain. Researchers noted, however, that no control group was evaluated during this study; therefore, participant improvement could have been affected by outside factors.
Conclusion: TMD symptoms improved in study participants following a specific course of treatment. The authors suggest further investigation of this type of chiropractic treatment for patients with articular TMD.

Note: This well-designed study thoroughly describes how one chiropractic technique is used in a chiropractor's practice, and documented clinical outcomes associated with each case of TMD. The paper is entirely descriptive and makes no claims that would be inappropriate for such a research design.

DeVocht JW, Long CR, Zeitler DL, Schaeffer W. Chiropractic treatment of temporomandibular disorders using the activator adjusting instrument: a prospective case series. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2003:26, pp421-425.

Chiropractic Research Review

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