Reported concepts for the treatment modalities and pain management of temporomandibular disorders

J Headache Pain. 2015:16:106. doi: 10.1186/s10194-015-0586-5. Epub 2015 Dec 7.


Background: Pain related to temporomandibular disorders (TMD) is a common problem in modern societies. The aim of the article is to present the concepts of TMD pain clinical management.

Methods: A survey was performed using the PubMed, SCOPUS and CINAHL databases for documents published between 1994 and 2014. The following search keywords were selected using MeSH terms of the National Library of Medicine in combination: TMD pain, TMD, TMJ, TMJ disorders, occlusal splint, TMD physiotherapy, TMJ rheumatoid disorders and TMJ surgery. Original articles and review papers which presented the clinical relevance and practical validity regarding the possibility of application in TMD management have been included. Authors have excluded articles without outstanding practical aspect and evidence-based background. A first selection was carried out by reviewing titles and abstracts of all articles found according to the criteria. After that the full texts of potentially suitable articles were assessed. In line with these criteria, among 11467 results the writers have included 66 papers.

Results: The most commonly reported conservative treatments are massage therapy and individually fabricated occlusal splints. In addition to massage, other popular methods include manual therapy and taping, warming/cooling of aching joints, and light and laser therapy. Drugs are also commonly used. In the most severe cases of the temporomandibular joint degeneration, surgical restoration of the joint is sometimes applied.

Conclusions: The authors concluded that conservative treatment including counselling, exercises, occlusal splint therapy, massage, manual therapy and others should be considered as a first choice therapy for TMD pain because of their low risk of side effects. In the case of severe acute pain or chronic pain resulting from serious disorders, inflammation and/or degeneration pharmacotherapy, minimally invasive and invasive procedures should be considered.

Keywords: Facial pain; Masticatory muscle pain; Temporomandibular disorders; Temporomandibular joint disorders.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Pain / diagnosis
  • Chronic Pain / etiology
  • Chronic Pain / therapy
  • Exercise Therapy / methods
  • Facial Pain / diagnosis
  • Facial Pain / etiology
  • Facial Pain / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Massage / methods
  • Occlusal Splints
  • Pain Management / methods*
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorders / complications
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorders / diagnosis
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorders / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome