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Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2013 Jan;51(1):52-7. doi: 10.1016/j.bjoms.2012.03.009. Epub 2012 Apr 26.

Physiotherapy in the management of disorders of the temporomandibular joint--perceived effectiveness and access to services: a national United Kingdom survey.

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King's College Hospital NHS Trust, Bessemer Road, Camberwell, London, United Kingdom.


Up to a quarter of the general population has experienced temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) at some point in time. Physiotherapy has been used in the management of TMD for many years, but evidence supporting its clinical effectiveness is limited. We investigated the perceived effectiveness of physiotherapy for patients with TMD among consultants in oral and maxillofacial surgery (OMFS) and the accessibility of these services in the United Kingdom (UK). Information was gathered from a postal or electronic questionnaire sent to the 356 OMFS consultants listed on the British Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons' website. A total of 208 responded (58%) and 72% considered physiotherapy to be effective. Amongst these respondents, jaw exercises (79%), ultrasound (52%), manual therapy (48%), acupuncture (41%) and laser therapy (15%) were considered to be effective. Twenty-eight percent of respondents did not consider physiotherapy to be effective. Reasons for this included lack of knowledge or expertise of the physiotherapist (41%) and lack of awareness of the benefits of physiotherapy (28%). In relation to access to physiotherapy services, 10% of respondents had a designated physiotherapist for patients with TMD, 89% could refer directly to physiotherapy and 7% worked in an environment that provided training for physiotherapists. Patients were prescribed jaw exercises by 69% of respondents. Despite limited evidence to support its effectiveness, approximately three-quarters of OMFS consultants in the UK regard physiotherapy to be beneficial in the management of TMD.

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