Limited evidence for acupuncture as a symptomatic treatment of TMD


This systematic review looked at whether acupuncture is effective for the treatment of temporomandibular disorders (TMD).

Searches were conducted in 13 databases, Medline, PubMed, The Cochrane Library, CINAHL, EMBASE, seven Korean Medical Databases and a Chinese Medical Database.  The authors looked for parallel or cross-over randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of acupuncture for TMD regardless of blinding, language and type of reporting.  Studies in which no clinical data were reported were excluded, as were complex interventions in which acupuncture was not a sole treatment.  Dissertations and abstracts were included, provided they contained sufficient detail.  Seven RCTs met the inclusion criteria.

They concluded:

the evidence for acupuncture for TMD management, especially for TMJ and masseter muscles pain, is weak. Thus, this conclusion is clearly limited due to the small sample sizes and the small number of included RCTs. Therefore, large-scale, rigorous studies with standardized treatment method in high quality are needed to establish whether acupuncture has definite therapeutic value.

Jung A, Shin BC, Lee MS, Sim H, Ernst E. Acupuncture for treating temporomandibular joint disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized, sham-controlled trials. J Dent. 2011 May;39(5):341-50.

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Derek Richards

Derek Richards is the Director of the Centre for Evidence-based Dentistry, Editor of the Evidence-based Dentistry Journal, Consultant in Dental Public Health with Forth Valley Health Board and Honorary Senior Lecturer at Dundee & Glasgow Dental Schools. He helped to establish both the Centre for Evidence-based Dentistry and the Evidence-based Dentistry Journal. He has been involved with teaching EBD and a wide range of evidence-based initiatives both nationally and internationally since 1994.

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