Effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of temporomandibular disorders of muscular origin: a systematic review of the last decade

J Altern Complement Med. 2010 Jan;16(1):107-12. doi: 10.1089/acm.2008.0484.


Objective: The purpose of this review is to evaluate the effectiveness of using acupuncture treatment for temporomandibular disorders (TMD) of muscular origin according to research published in the last decade.

Methods: The information was gathered using the MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, and CISCOM databases. The inclusion criteria for selecting the studies were the following: (1) only randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were selected; (2) studies had to be carried out on patients with TMD of muscular origin; (3) studies had to use acupuncture treatment; and (4) studies had to be published in scientific journals between 1997 and 2008. Two (2) independent reviewers analyzed the methodological quality of the studies using the Delphi list. A total of four RCTs were chosen once the methodological quality was judged as being acceptable. All of the studies included in the review compared the acupuncture treatment with a placebo treatment. All of them described results that were statistically significant in relation to short-term improvement of TMD signs and symptoms of a muscular origin, except one of the analyzed studies that found no significant difference between acupuncture and sham acupuncture.

Conclusions: In the authors' opinion, research into the long-term effects of acupuncture in the treatment of TMD is needed. We also recommend larger samples sizes for future studies, so the results will be more reliable.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorders / etiology
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorders / therapy*