Effect of stabilization splint therapy on pain during chewing in patients suffering from myofascial pain

A. Gavish, E. Winocur, Y. S. Ventura, M. Halachmi, E. Gazit

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Masticatory myofascial pain (MFP) condition is a musculoskeletal disorder that compromises the functional capacities of the masticatory system. As such, the incorporation of an intensive chewing test as a discriminatory exercise for the diagnosis of this condition and evaluation of treatment success has considerable potential. Various splint designs have been used successfully, which have posed a question of whether the therapeutic effect of the splint is a placebo or has some other curative properties. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of the stabilization appliance to reduce signs and symptoms in MFP patients and to compare the pain experience during the chewing test between two groups of patients, with and without splints. Myofascial pain patients (n = 37) who reported exacerbation of pain in function participated in the study. Patients perfomed a 9-min chewing test, followed by 9-min rest and marked their pain intensity on a visual analogue scale every 3 min. Of the 37 patients, 21 received a stabilization flat occlusal splint for night use and 16 were equally monitored clinically without a splint. At the end of 8 weeks, a second clinical examination and chewing test were performed. Student's t-test was used to analyse differences between study groups. Analysis of variance and covariance (ANCOVA) with repeated measures was applied to analyse the effect of treatment. Level of pain at baseline prior to the chewing test (P0) was introduced as a co-variant. At baseline both groups showed relatively high scores of pain intensity and did not show any significant differences among the collected variables. At the end of the experiment, the splint group had a statistically significant reduction in pain intensity, in mean muscle sensitivity to palpation and in the pain experience during the chewing test compared with no change in the controls. A stabilization splint has a therapeutic value beyond its placebo effects. Thus, it should be an integral part of the treatment modalities in MFP disorder patients. An intensive chewing test is an effective tool to evaluate the treatment modality efficacy in MFP patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1181-1186
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Oral Rehabilitation
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2002


  • Chewing
  • Myofascial pain
  • Occlusal appliance
  • Oro-facial pain
  • Stabilization splint
  • Temporomandibular disorder


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