Palmer College and University of Iowa team up for TMD study

By Michael Dorausch, D.C.

Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research Begins Study with University of Iowa for Conservative Treatment of Patients with Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD)

Davenport, Iowa — Researchers at the Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research (PCCR), on the Palmer College of Chiropractic campus in Davenport, Iowa, are working in collaboration with the University of Iowa’s College of Dentistry and Institute for Clinical and Translational Sciences in Iowa City, to explore the feasibility of using chiropractic care to treat people with chronic pain in their face and jaw, classified as temporomandibular disorder (TMD).

The TMD study is one of three projects that are part of a four-year, $2.8 million grant awarded to the PCCR in 2008 from the NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine to establish a multidisciplinary Developmental Center for Clinical and Translational Science in Chiropractic. The TMD study is directed by project co-leaders James DeVocht, D.C., Ph.D., from Palmer, and Clark Stanford, D.D.S., Ph.D., from the University of Iowa.

“More than 10 million Americans suffer from head and neck pain related to TMD, with a lifetime prevalence of 45 percent and a direct care cost of $2 billion,” said Dr. DeVocht. “This makes it one of the most common forms of chronic debilitating pain in the United States. Although many medical and dental treatments for TMD are available, few if any have shown any sustained efficacy.”

One approach to relieving TMD pain is for Chiropractors to provide a specific form of treatment, Activator Methods technique, using a hand-held mechanical device to deliver a quick, gentle adjustment in a precise manner to areas of the head and neck. The TMD component of the Activator approach was developed by Wally Schaeffer, D.C., Coralville, Iowa, and has shown promise in an earlier case series.

For the current TMD study, potential participants will be interviewed by phone and given a dental examination at the Dental Clinical Research Center at the University of Iowa to determine if they qualify. A total of 80 participants will be enrolled and randomly assigned to one of four different treatment groups, all of which will include an intensive self-care program for TMD pain management.

Participants will be equally assigned to either: 1) Activator chiropractic care; 2) a conventional dental splint used for TMD management; 3) a placebo treatment; or 4) the intensive self care program alone. All participants will receive examinations and treatment at the Dental Clinical Research Center in Iowa City and patients assigned to chiropractic care will be referred to a private practice in Coralville, Iowa. Examinations and treatment are provided at no charge to participants. Anyone interested in participating in the study should contact the Dental Clinical Research Center at the University of Iowa at (319) 335-7414.

The Palmer Center of Chiropractic Research will serve as the Data Coordinating Center for this study. Patients will be treated for two months and their progress followed for an additional four months. “The concept that manipulation of the upper cervical spine with the Activator Method can reduce head and neck pain and reduce the potential need for prescription pain medications and improve quality of life are very important issues to understand,” said Dr. Stanford of the University of Iowa. “A novel feature of this study design is that the effects of each form of treatment will be evaluated in a masked or blinded fashion. This unique research design allows us to use the expert clinicians for each TMD method and therefore gives us the best chance to understand differences in efficacy of response to this innovative chiropractic method.”

The Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research is the largest institutional chiropractic research effort in the world, supplemented increasingly by federal grant funding. These funds, totaling more than $28 million in the last 10 years, have been instrumental in expanding PCCR programs in research education, clinical science, translational research, experimental biomechanics, neurosciences and health services and policy research.

Source: Palmer College of Chiropractic

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