Join Clinical Trials for Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders
The joint located where the jawbone meets the skull is known as the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), and is the joint that facilitates talking, chewing, and yawning. This joint is prone to many painful and uncomfortable disorders that can occur as a result of numerous problems, such as arthritis, injury, or muscle fatigue.
Symptoms of TMJ disorders include pain, tenderness, earaches, chewing difficulties or discomfort, lockjaw, headaches, and an uneven bite. Women between the ages of 30 and 50 most frequently experience TMJ disorders; however, individuals who are born with joint deformities may be more likely to experience them as well.
In addition, TMJ disorders are also common in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and certain sleep disorders. Self-management and non-surgical techniques are generally effective at treating TMJ disorders, but in some severe cases, certain dental interventions or surgeries may be required.
Researchers are currently tracking health individuals to attempt to gain insight as to risk factors that contribute to TMJ disorders over time. In addition, smaller-scale studies are underway to better understand various elements of the pain associated with TMJ disorders, identify new medications to treat TMJ disorder symptoms, and evaluating the impact that stressors like noise, heat/cold, and physical/mental stress have on the symptoms of TMJ disorders.
What Will Temporomandibular Joint Disorders Clinical Trials Be Like?
Clinical trials for TMJ disorders may involve many common tests and procedures; however, the ultimate design of the particular study will determine which specific procedures you will undergo. Examples of specific tests and procedures that may be used include the following:
- Detailed exam of the teeth, mouth, and gums.
- Detailed review of your medical history.
- Examination of the jaw to identify problems with the temporomandibular joint.
- Blood tests to look for indications of an underlying disease or condition.
- Dental x-rays
- Computed tomography (CT or “CAT” scan) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which are non-invasive imaging procedures that take detailed pictures of areas inside the body.
- Detailed recent history of stress, anxiety, and tension.
- Detailed list of current medication use.
- You may be asked to complete brief questionnaires to evaluate your quality of life and pain level.
Typical Temporomandibular Joint Disorders Clinical Trial:
Examples of sample clinical trials for TMJ disorders might include the following:
- A randomized clinical trial in which individuals with arthritis-associated TMJ disorder undergo standard therapy with atherocentesis (a procedure during which excess fluid is drained from a joint) and then randomly assigned to receive either treatment with corticosteroids or a placebo. The goal of this study would be to see if the addition of corticosteroids to standard treatment for TMJ disorder in arthritis patients is helpful at improving measures of pain after six months of treatment.
- A randomized clinical trial to compare the effectiveness of acupuncture and standard dental treatment versus standard treatment alone in women with fibromyalgia-associated TMJ disorder.
- A randomized clinical trial to determine if treatment with duloxetine (Cymbalta; a medication approved to treat depression and certain chronic pain conditions) is effective at reducing the pain associated with TMJ disorders of unknown origin in women between the ages of 18 and 50. In such a study, half of the subjects would be randomly assigned to receive duloxetine while the other half would receive a placebo.
- A study to evaluate if individuals with joint-deformity associated TMJ disorder have an increased incidence of hearing impairment than individuals without TMJ joint deformity.
A brief word about randomized trials and placebos:
Many clinical trials involve the comparison of an investigational treatment to a “standard” treatment. Some studies determine which therapy a patient receives through a process known as randomization, in which patients are randomly assigned to receive either the investigational treatment or the standard treatment.
On occasion, a trial will investigate the use of a standard treatment plus a new drug compared to standard treatment plus a placebo. Placebos are inactive or “sham” treatments that are identical in appearance to the active treatment but have no therapeutic value.
Placebos are necessary to help determine if adverse effects that occur during the clinical trial are the result of the investigational treatment or due to some other factor. They also allow researchers to measure the effects of the active treatment and observe what would have happened without it.
In rare instances where no standard therapy exists, or when a new drug is being evaluated for the first time (such as in the third clinical trial example provided above), the investigational treatment might be compared to a placebo alone. In these types of trials, those patients who are randomized to the placebo group do not receive an active treatment.
Placebo-only trials will only be done when ethically appropriate and when patients have been adequately informed that they may end up receiving the placebo rather than the active treatment. It is very important to note, however, that no one should ever participate in such a placebo trial when there is a widely available and highly effective standard treatment already in existence for their particular disease or condition.
Trial Eligibility and Medical Information Needed:
The type of clinical trial you may be eligible for often depends on many factors. Therefore, it is important to know as many details as possible with regard to your specific circumstances when searching for clinical trials. Examples of information you may want to have on hand include the following:
- Your history of TMJ disorder (duration, severity of pain, etc.)
- Your history of treatment for TMJ disorder.
- Your prior and current diagnoses of any health conditions or diseases.
- Your current medications (including vitamins and other dietary supplements).
Suggested Search Terms:
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