Background and Objective
The aim of this single‐centre, two‐arm, parallel‐group, double‐blinded, randomised controlled trial was to investigate the disputed specific effectiveness of acupuncture by comparing acupuncture on specific and non‐specific points among patients with non‐chronic, painful TMDs.
Following predefined eligibility criteria, 49 consecutive patients of both sexes were recruited to the study. All subjects were diagnosed with a non‐chronic (Graded Chronic Pain Scale grade <3) painful TMD, as assessed using the Diagnostic Criteria for Temporomandibular Disorders (DC/TMD). Patients were randomly assigned to group A (acupuncture on specific points) or group B (acupuncture on non‐specific points) after the initial examination (T0). Both acupuncture treatment sessions were conducted by a trained dentist once a week for four weeks. The examination was repeated five weeks (T5) after T0 by one calibrated examiner who was unaware of the study groups. Characteristic pain intensity (CPI) was evaluated as the main outcome criterion and compared between times and treatment groups by means of non‐parametric tests (significance level set at P = .05). Secondary outcomes comprised the maximum corrected active mouth‐opening without pain (MAO); patients’ expectations regarding acupuncture treatment and pain development; depressivity; and oral health‐related quality of life (OHRQoL).
A total of 41 patients (38 female) successfully completed the study (mean age: 40.17 ± 16.61). The two groups did not differ significantly at any time in terms of age and CPI. However, CPI was significantly (P < .05) lower at T5 than at T0 for both groups (29.66 and 30.35% lower in group A and group B, respectively). An increase in MAO was observed at T5 for both groups but was significant for group B only (P = .016). All patients had positive expectations of acupuncture therapy, and the two groups did not differ significantly at T5 with regard to the extent to which their expectations had been fulfilled by the treatment (P = .717). Comparison of T0 and T5 showed a statistically significant reduction of depressivity for group A (P = .0205), but no significant change for group B (P = .329). At T5, OHRQoL had improved significantly for both groups (group A, P = .018; group B, P < .001) compared with at T0.
Acupuncture on both specific and non‐specific points reduces the non‐dysfunctional pain of TMD patients. The effect of acupuncture on painful TMD cannot be attributed to the specific point selection.
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