Laser Therapy and Occlusal Stabilization Splint for Temporomandibular Disorders in Patients With Fibromyalgia Syndrome: A Randomized, Clinical Trial

Altern Ther Health Med. 2016 Sep;22(5):23-31.


Context • Patients with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) report frequent and severe symptoms from temporomandibular disorders (TMDs). The appropriate treatment of TMDs remains controversial. No studies have occurred on the efficacy of therapy with a laser or an occlusal stabilization splint in the treatment of TMDs in patients with FMS. Objective • The study intended to investigate the therapeutic effects of laser therapy and of an occlusal stabilization splint for reducing pain and dysfunction and improving the quality of sleep in patients with TMDs and FMS. Design • The research team designed a single-blinded, randomized clinical trial. Setting • The study took place in the research laboratory at the University of Granada (Granada, Spain). Participants • Participants were 58 women and men who had been diagnosed with FMS and TMDs and who were referred from the clinical setting. Intervention • Participants were randomly assigned to the occlusal-splint or the laser group. The laser group received a treatment protocol in which laser therapy was applied to the participant's tender points, and the occlusal-splint group underwent a treatment protocol in which an occlusal stabilization splint was used. Both groups underwent treatment for 12 wk. Outcomes Measures • Pain intensity, widespread pain, quality of sleep, severity of symptoms, active and passive mouth opening, and joint sounds were assessed in both groups at baseline and after the last intervention. The measurements used were (1) a visual analogue scale (VAS), (2) the Widespread Pain Index (WPI), (3) the Symptom Severity Scale (SSS), (4) the Patient's Global Impression of Change (PGIC), (5) the Pittsburgh Quality of Sleep Questionnaire Index (PSQI), (6) an assessment of the number of tender points, (7) a measurement of the active mouth opening, (8) a measurement of the vertical overlap of the incisors, and (9) the measurement of joint sounds during mouth opening and closing. Results • The group X time interaction for the 2 × 2 mixed analysis of variance found no statistically significant differences between the 2 treatment groups: (1) VAS, P = .591; (2) WPI, P = .112; (3) SSS, P = .227; (4) PGIC, P = .329; (5) number of tender points, P = .107; (6) right and left clicking sounds in the jaw joint during palpation at mouth opening, P = .723 and P = .121, respectively; and (7) right and left clicking sounds in the jaw joint during palpation at mouth closing, P = .743 and P = .698, respectively. Compared with baseline, the laser treatment showed significant improvements on several outcomes, including the VAS, P < .001; WPI, P = .003; and SSS, P = .001. Overall, the study found an average improvement in symptoms from baseline of 21% , P < .001, based on the PGIC. Conclusions • Laser therapy or an occlusal stabilization splint can be an alternative therapeutic treatment for reducing pain symptoms and the clicking sound for TMDs in patients with FMS.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Fibromyalgia / physiopathology
  • Fibromyalgia / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Laser Therapy* / adverse effects
  • Laser Therapy* / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occlusal Splints* / adverse effects
  • Occlusal Splints* / statistics & numerical data
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain* / epidemiology
  • Pain* / prevention & control
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorders / physiopathology
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorders / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome