Published on 06-22-2010
Researchers at the Universidad Europea de Madrid in Spain recently published a meta-analysis of acupuncture studies for Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD) such as TMJ and others. As discussed in my article "How Does Acupuncture Work?," acupuncture can be difficult to study with western clinical research methods. Due to this complexity, among other factors, meta-analyses are often performed on acupuncture studies to group together a number of studies by quality and see what the quality studies have to say in common. For TMD the researchers looked at 8 previous studies and considered 4 of them of high enough quality to be included in their meta-analysis. Quality is difficult to judge with studies generally and perhaps more so with acupuncture studies but it has to do with eliminating bias, large enough patient bases to quality the results, the clarity of methods used and other factors. When a study is included in a meta-analysis the results of them collectively can generally be considered of value to warrant patient recommendations for certain therapies - in this case acupuncture.
As practitioners we often treat conditions such as TMJ, trigeminal neuralgia, bell's palsy and a host of other conditions related to the nerves and circulation of the face. And in clinical experience we generally do quite well with these conditions. This analysis found acupuncture to be an effective treatment for the reduction of pain in temporomandibular disorders. It did not, however, study the resolution of these symptoms or discuss in detail the levels of pain reduction. It did conclude that further studies should be performed to further ascertain the benefits of acupuncture for this class of disorders.
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