Hypnosis reduces temporomandibular disorder pain


The aim of this trial was to assess the effect of hypnosis on self-reported pain and the blink reflex (BR) in temporomandibular disorder.

Forty three patients with a diagnosis of persistent (>6 months) myofascial pain Iab  according to the Research Diagnostic Criteria (RDC/TMD) were  randomized to hypnosis or control (nonhypnotic relaxation). Pain intensity was assessed 3 times daily on a 0 to 10 numerical rating scale. BRs were elicited by electrical  stimulation with a nociceptive-specific electrode and recorded before and after treatment at pain threshold (Ip) and supra threshold (2xIp).

They found that the characteristic pain intensity (CPI ) was significantly reduced in the hypnosis group from 4.6±2.2 at baseline to 2.9±2.5 after treatment (P<0.001), whereas there were no differences in the control group (P=0.729). The pain reduction was generally unrelated to changes in the BR.

They concluded

Our results revealed  both a statistically significant and clinically relevant reduction in daily TMD pain intensity after treatment with hypnosis.

Abrahamsen R, Baad-Hansen L, Zachariae R, Svensson P. Effect of hypnosis on pain and blink reflexes in patients with painful temporomandibular disorders. Clin J Pain. 2011 May;27(4):344-51. PubMed PMID: 21178599.

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Derek Richards

Derek Richards is a specialist in dental public health, Director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Dentistry and Specialist Advisor to the Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme (SDCEP) Development Team. A former editor of the Evidence-Based Dentistry Journal and chief blogger for the Dental Elf website until December 2023. Derek has been involved with a wide range of evidence-based initiatives both nationally and internationally since 1994. Derek retired from the NHS in 2019 remaining as a part-time senior lecturer at Dundee Dental School until the end of 2023.

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