Tempromandibular pain disorders (TMDs) are characterized by a dysfunction of the TMD joint and cause orofacial pain, masticatory dysfunction or both. A new study published in The Journal of Pain showed that standard treatment approaches yield modest to large improvement in pain, but the addition of cognitive behavioral therapy may be helpful. The Journal of Pain is published by the American Pain Society, www.americanpainsociety.org.
Some 10 to 36 million U.S. adults, primarily women, have TMD pain, making this condition the second most frequent pain disorder following low-back pain. MD pain usually can be managed with conservative treatment with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain medications (NSAIDS), supportive patient education, diet modifications and an intraoral splint and/or occlusal therapy. Not all patients benefit, however, and previous research has shown that many TMD patients benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). But the reasons behind CBT treatment success or failure are unclear.
Researchers from the University of Connecticut Health Center evaluated 101 TMD patients on a daily basis for three months. Study subjects reported having TMD pain for an average of 6.7 years. They were randomly assigned to one of two treatment groups: standard conservative care and standard care with CBT added, which included coping skills training. The purpose of the study was to determine if specific subtypes of treatment nonresponsive TMD patients could be identified to determine if CBT could be helpful.