European Federation of Chapters of the International Association for the Study of Pain
European Journal of Pain vol:16 issue:5 pages:737-747
Physical therapy is widely used to decrease pain and restore function in patients suffering from masticatory muscle pain. Controlled studies on its efficacy are scarce. This study evaluated the 1-year effect of a 6-week physical therapy programme in a single blind, randomized, controlled trial. Fifty-three subjects were randomly assigned to either a physical therapy group [n = 26; 19 women, mean age (SD) 36.6 years (15.5 years)] or a control group [n = 27; 20 women, mean age (SD) 42.9 years (15.1 years)]. In the physical therapy group, the patients received education, muscle stretching, exercises and homework for nine treatments in 6 weeks. In the control group, the patients received education on the evaluation days only. At baseline and after 3, 6, 12, 26 and 52 weeks, pain and masticatory function were evaluated using visual analogue scales, the McGill Pain Questionnaire, pressure pain thresholds of the masseter and temporalis muscles, the mandibular function impairment questionnaire, and active and passive maximal mouth opening. All pain rating variables decreased and all function variables increased significantly over time in both groups. No significant differences in improvement between the groups (time-treatment interaction) were found. These data suggest that the long-term decrease in pain and the improvement of function are not related to active physical therapy.