Objective: To investigate the effectiveness of exercise therapy on pain, function, and mobility outcomes in patients with temporomandibular joint dysfunction.
Study design: Systematic review with meta-analysis.
Methods: A systematic review and meta-analysis undertaken following Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. Studies that met the inclusion criteria: (1) randomized controlled trials; (2) a population with the diagnosis of temporomandibular joint dysfunction; and (3) interventions that included exercise therapy were considered for review. When studies demonstrated homogeneity on outcome measures, the mean differences or standardized mean differences with 95% confidence interval were calculated and pooled in a meta-analysis for pooled synthesis.
Results: Six articles with a total of 419 participants were included in the review and only four studies were included in the meta-analysis. Mobility and mixed exercise therapy approaches appear to be the most common exercise approaches utilized for management of temporomandibular joint dysfunction. Exercise therapy and the associated dosage provide moderate short-term and varying long-term benefits in reduction of pain and improvement of range of motion of the in patients with temporomandibular joint dysfunction.
Conclusion: Included studies suggest a mobility or a mixed approach to exercise therapies have impact on reducing pain, significant impact for increasing range of motion, but lack a significant impact for functional improvement.
Level of evidence: Therapy, level 1a-.
Keywords: Temporomandibular dysfunction; exercise; meta-analysis; rehabilitation interventions; systematic review.