Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) is a painful condition that can make your face hurt, your jaw ache and chewing food painful.
A new study in the Journal Drug Invention Today has just compared ultrasound therapy and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation to find out which is the most effective for reducing pain in TMJ disorder.
For their study, they selected 30 patients who arrived at the A.C.S. Medical College and Hospital in Chennai, India with complaints of painful TMJs.
None of them were on pain meds for receiving other treatments for their condition, and the scientists excluded people who had dislocated their joints or nerve conditions.
They all filled out a pain questionnaire before treatment started and were split into two groups: the first received 15-minute sessions of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) and the second received five-minute sessions of continuous mode ultrasound at 3 MHz.
TENS uses electrodes placed over the painful area to apply controlled, low-voltage electrical pulses. This stimulates the nervous system and reduces pain.
Ultrasound sends sound waves (as you might have guessed) through the skin, either continuously or in pulses.
Pain was the same in both groups before the treatment commenced.
After four weeks of these treatments, the researchers repeated the pain questionnaire and found a definite difference between the two groups.
UItrasound won. That group reported a greater reduction in pain than the TENS group.
Much of the current research of ultrasound for pain is of questionable quality, but it clearly does work for some people, so if you are in pain with TMJ disorder, you might just as well give it a try.