The "at-home LLLT" in temporo-mandibular disorders pain control: a pilot study

Laser Ther. 2015 Mar 31;24(1):47-52. doi: 10.5978/islsm.15-OR-06.


Objectives: The Temporo-Mandibular Disorders (TMD) are a set of dysfunctional patterns concerning the temporo-mandibular joints (TMJ) and the masticatory muscles; its main symptom is pain, probably caused by inflammatory changes in the synovial membrane, alterations in the bone marrow of the mandibular condyle and impingement and compression. The aim of this preliminary study was to investigate the effectiveness in the TMD pain reduction of a new laser device recently proposed by the commerce that, due to its reduced dimensions and to be a class I laser according the ANSI classification, may be used at home by the patient himself.

Material and methods: Twenty-four patients with TMD were randomly selected: the inclusion criteria for the sample was the diagnosis of mono- or bi-lateral TMD, with acute pain restricted to the joint area, associated with the absence of any muscle tenderness during palpation. The patients were randomly assigned to two groups: Group 1 (12 patients): patients receiving real LLLT (experimental group). Group 2 (12 patients): patients receiving inactive laser (placebo group). The treatment was performed once a day for two weeks with an 808 nm diode laser by the patient himself with irradiation of the cutaneous zone corresponding to the TMJ for 15 minutes each side. Each patient was instructed to express its pain in a visual analogue scale (VAS) making a perpendicular line between the two extremes representing the felt pain level. Statistical analysis was realized with GraphPad Instat Software, where P<0.05 was considered significant and P<0.01 very significant.

Results: The patient's pain evaluation was expressed in the two study groups before the treatment, 1 week and two weeks after the treatment. The differences between the two groups result extremely significant with p<0.0001 for the comparison of VAS value after 1 and 2 weeks.

Conclusion: This study, even if it may be considered such a pilot study, investigated a new way to control the pain in the temporo-mandibular diseases by an at home self administered laser device. RESULTS are encouraging but they will have to be confirmed by greater studies.