Use of complementary and alternative medicine for temporomandibular disorders

J Orofac Pain. Summer 2003;17(3):224-36.


Aims: Despite many reports about complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use in the general population, little information exists about specific CAM therapies used for particular health conditions. This study examines the use of CAM therapies among patients with temporomandibular disorders (TMD).

Methods: We surveyed 192 patients with documented TMD as part of a larger project on the effectiveness of various CAM modalities for TMD patients. The survey asked about use of and attitudes toward specific CAM therapies for treating TMD and other patient-identified health conditions. The survey also measured physical health, health behavior, and psychosocial functioning.

Results: Nearly two thirds of the respondents (62.5%; n = 120) reported using CAM therapies for TMD or a related condition. Of all the therapies reported, massage was rated as the most frequent and among the most satisfactory and helpful. In general, respondents who used CAM for their TMD reported being most satisfied with the "hands on" CAM therapies (massage, acupuncture, and chiropractic care). The vast majority of respondents reported using CAM approaches for TMD simultaneously with conventional care (95.6%; 66 of 69). Those using CAM for TMD tended to be older, had a history of multiple medical problems, and reported more positive psychologic functioning. Respondents who most often reported CAM treatment as "very helpful" for their TMD were likely to be healthier (i.e., reporting higher levels of exercise and fewer sleep disturbances).

Conclusion: Given the frequent use of CAM treatments by our respondents, allopathic providers should inquire about the adjunctive use of CAM among their TMD patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health
  • Complementary Therapies / psychology
  • Complementary Therapies / statistics & numerical data*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Social Class
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorders / therapy*