Osteopathic manual therapy versus conventional conservative therapy in the treatment of temporomandibular disorders: a randomized controlled trial

J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2010 Apr;14(2):179-84. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2009.08.002. Epub 2009 Sep 20.


Objective: Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) is a term reflecting chronic, painful, craniofacial conditions usually of unclear etiology with impaired jaw function. The effect of osteopathic manual therapy (OMT) in patients with TMD is largely unknown, and its use in such patients is controversial. Nevertheless, empiric evidence suggests that OMT might be effective in alleviating symptoms. A randomized controlled clinical trial of efficacy was performed to test this hypothesis.

Methods: We performed a randomized, controlled trial that involved adult patients who had TMD. Patients were randomly divided into two groups: an OMT group (25 patients, 12 males and 13 females, age 40.6+/-11.03) and a conventional conservative therapy (CCT) group (25 patients, 10 males and 15 females, age 38.4+/-15.33). At the first visit (T0), at the end of treatment (after six months, T1) and two months after the end of treatment (T2), all patients were subjected to clinical evaluation. Assessments were performed by subjective pain intensity (visual analogue pain scale, VAS), clinical evaluation (Temporomandibular index) and measurements of the range of maximal mouth opening and lateral movement of the head around its axis.

Results: Patients in both groups improved during the six months. The OMT group required significantly less medication (non-steroidal medication and muscle relaxants) (P<0.001).

Conclusions: The two therapeutic modalities had similar clinical results in patients with TMD, even if the use of medication was greater in CCT group. Our findings suggest that OMT is a valid option for the treatment of TMD.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Female
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Manipulation, Osteopathic*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorders / drug therapy
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorders / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome