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J Oral Rehabil. 2015 Oct;42(10):723-32. doi: 10.1111/joor.12300. Epub 2015 Apr 20.

Transcranial direct current stimulation and exercises for treatment of chronic temporomandibular disorders: a blind randomised-controlled trial.

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Bahian School of Medicine and Human Health, Salvador, Brazil.
Adventist College of Bahia, Cachoeira, Brazil.
Functional Electrostimulation Laboratory, Health Sciences Institute, Federal University of Bahia, Salvador, Brazil.


To evaluate the effect of adding transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to exercises for chronic pain, dysfunction and quality of life in subjects with temporomandibular disorders (TMD). Participants were selected based on the RDC/TMD criteria and assessed for pain intensity, pressure pain threshold over temporomandibular joint and cervical muscles and quality of life. After initial assessment, all individuals underwent a 4-week protocol of exercises and manual therapy, together with active or sham primary motor cortex tDCS. Stimulation was delivered through sponge electrodes, with 2 mA amplitude, for 20 min daily, over the first 5 days of the trial. A total of 32 subjects (mean age 24.7 ± 6.8 years) participated in the evaluations and treatment protocol. Mean pain intensity pre-treatment was 5.5 ± 1.4 for active tDCS group, and 6.3 ± 1.2 for sham tDCS. Both groups showed a decrease in pain intensity scores during the trial period (time factor--F(4.5,137.5) = 28.7, P < 0.001; group factor--F(1.0,30.0 = 7.7), P < 0.05). However, there were no differences between the groups regarding change in pain intensity (time*group interaction--F(4.5,137.5) = 1.5, P = 0.137). This result remained the same after 5 months (t-test t = 0.29, P > 0.05). Pressure pain thresholds decrease and improvement in quality of life were also noticeable in both groups, but again without significant differences between them. Absolute benefit increase was 37.5% (CI 95%: -15.9% to 90.9%), and number needed to treat was 2.66. This study suggests that there is no additional benefit in adding tDCS to exercises for the treatment of chronic TMD in young adults.


electro-therapy; oro-facial pain; quality of life; rehabil-itation; temporomandibular disorders

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