Jim Galbiati, M.Ac.
List T, Helkimo M, Andersson S and Carisson GE (1992)
Acupuncture and occiusal splint therapy in the treatment of craniomandibuiar disorders,
Part I. A comparative study,
Swed DentJ 16:125- 141.
List T and Heikimo M (1992)
Acupuncture and occiusal splint therapy in the treatment of craniomandibular disorders,
Part 2. A one year follow-up study,
Acta Odontol Scand 50:375- 385.
Type of Study: A combined course of manual acupuncture and electroacupuncture was compared to a medical device (occlusal splint) and to no treatment in patients with craniomandibular disorders of primarily muscular origin.
Research Design: One hundred and ten patients with chronic signs and symptoms of craniomandibular disorder (median duration 4 years) were randomly assigned to 3 groups: acupuncture treatment, occlusal splint therapy or a 3-month waiting list. The acupuncture group received an average of 12 needles, mainly on the jaw, head and neck for 30 minutes, once per day, for 6-8 weeks. After 2-3 weeks, treatment included electrical stimulation applied to 2 needles at distal points on the hand and leg. The comparison group received occlusal splints, constructed to fit the maxillary arch, that were worn each night for 7-8 weeks. Assessment endpoints, evaluated before treatment, immediately after treatment and at 6 and 12-month follow-up times, included self-monitored outcomes (severity of symptoms, activities of daily life, frequency and intensity of pain, use of pain medication) and clinically-monitored outcomes (clinical dysfunction score, index of occlusal state and tooth wear). Clinical outcomes were assessed for all groups by the same independent examiner.
Results: Directly following treatment, patients in the acupuncture group showed significant reduction in all assessment endpoints except consumption of medication. Those in the splint group showed significant reductions in only two measures, pain intensity and clinical dysfunction score. No significant reductions were found in the waiting list group. Acupuncture outperformed splint therapy on four endpoints; no endpoints favored splint therapy.
Conclusion: On a short-term basis, acupuncture provided better subjective results and comparable objective results relative to occlusal splint therapy for treatment of chronic craniomandibular disorders. These findings, as well as those from the previous study, suggest that acupuncture may relieve patients from the nightly use of an occlusal splint.