Laser acupuncture therapy in patients with treatment-resistant temporomandibular disorders

PLoS One. 2014 Oct 17;9(10):e110528. 

Hu WLChang CHHung YCTseng YJHung ILHsu SF.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the clinical effects of laser acupuncture therapy for temporomandibular disorders (TMD) after ineffective previous treatments.

METHODS: A retrospective observational study was conducted in 29 treatment-resistant TMD patients (25 women, 4 men; age range, 17-67 years). Subjects were treated 3 times per week for 4 weeks with the Handylaser Trion (GaAlAs laser diode, 810 nm, 150 mW, pulsed waves), which delivered 0.375 J of energy (5 s) to ST7, ST6, and LI4 and 3 J (40 s) to each Ashi point, 7.5-26.25 J/cm2 in total. The visual analog scale (VAS) and maximal mouth opening (MMO) were evaluated before and after treatment.

RESULTS: VAS analysis showed that the patients were free of pain at rest (endpoint) after 5.90±6.08 sessions of laser acupuncture for acute TMD and after 16.21±17.98 sessions for chronic TMD. The VAS score on palpation of the temporomandibular joint reduced to 0.30±0.67 for patients with acute TMD (p = 0.005) and to 0.47±0.84 for those with chronic TMD (p<0.001). The MMO significantly increased in patients with acute TMD (7.80±5.43 mm, p = 0.008) and in patients with chronic TMD (15.58±7.87 mm, p<0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: Our study shows that laser acupuncture therapy improves the symptoms of treatment-resistant TMD. Further studies with a more appropriate design, involving long-term follow-up examinations in a larger patient sample, are needed to evaluate its efficacy.

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