Hyaluronic acid in the treatment of TMJ disorders: a systematic review of the literature

Cranio. 2010 Jul;28(3):166-76. doi: 10.1179/crn.2010.023.


Hyaluronate acid (HA) injections are gaining attention as a treatment option to manage symptoms of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, but updated evidence-based data on their effectiveness are actually lacking. The present paper aims to summarize and review systematically the clinical studies on the use of hyaluronic acid injections to treat TMJ disorders performed over the last decade. On November 9, 2009, a systematic search in the National Library of Medicine's PubMed (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed) database was performed by means of a combined MeSH and word terms to identify all peer-reviewed papers published in the English literature dealing with the hyaluronic acid infiltration in patients affected by TMJ disorders. The selected papers were assessed according to a structured reading of articles format, which provided that the study design was methodologically evaluated in relation to four main issues, viz., population, intervention, comparison, and outcome. Nineteen (N=19) papers were selected for inclusion in the review, twelve (N=12) dealt with the use of hyaluronic acid in TMJ disk displacements and seven (N=7) dealt with inflammatory-degenerative disorders. Only nine groups of researchers were involved in the studies, and less than half of the studies (8/19) were randomized and controlled trials (RCTs). All studies reported a decrease in pain levels independently by the patients' disorder and by the adopted injection protocol. Positive outcomes were maintained over the follow-up period, which was varied among studies, ranging between 15 days and 24 months. The superiority of HA injections was shown only against placebo saline injections, but outcomes are comparable with those achieved with corticosteroid injections or oral appliances. The available literature seems to be inconclusive as to the effectiveness of HA injections with respect to other therapeutic modalities in treating TMJ disorders. Studies with a better methodological design are needed to gain better insight into this issue and to draw clinically useful information on the most suitable protocols for each different TMJ disorder.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Hyaluronic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Hyaluronic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Injections, Intra-Articular
  • Joint Dislocations / drug therapy
  • Osteoarthritis / drug therapy
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Viscosupplements / administration & dosage
  • Viscosupplements / therapeutic use*


  • Viscosupplements
  • Hyaluronic Acid