A Study of the Importance of Psychological Factors in Treatment Results for Temporomandibular Disorders

Psychological Factors and Temporomandibular Treatment Outcomes

Wexler Gerald B and Steed Pamela A,

Jour of Craniomandib Practice, (16)2: 72-77, 1998.

This study examines the effect of psychological dysfunction as an etiological factor in temporomandibular disorder (TMD). It employs a thoroughly validated psychometric measurement system, the TMJ Scale (Pain Resource Center, Inc., Durham, North Carolina), to determine the effects of pretreatment stress and psychological dysfunction upon presenting symptom levels. The study also addresses these parameters for the eventual treatment outcome. During the course of this study, 2,074 patients were evaluated. Seven hundred and fifty-four by Dr. Steed and 1,320 by Dr. Wexler. Both practices address essentially identical patient populations and focus special interest in craniofacial pain and the diagnosis and Phase I treatment of temporomandibular dysfunction. Of the patients in the study who were found to have clinically treatable temporomandibular disorders, 561 consecutive patients completed treatment and were deemed to have reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). The TMJ Scale was re-administered to this post-treatment population. This study summarized findings pertinent to the four primary issues: 1. pre-treatment psychological factors and stress, which seem to be moderately related to presenting pain levels and overall TMD levels (excepting joint function); 2. treatment outcomes which appeared to be unrelated to the initial psychosocial symptom severity; 3. physical symptoms outcomes and psychosocial outcomes which appeared to be significantly related and; 4. intracapsular symptom improvement which appeared to be unrelated to psychological functioning changes but mildly related to stress.

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