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Keywords:

  • chronic pain;
  • myofascial pain of the masticatory muscles;
  • temporomandibular disorders;
  • visual analogue scale;
  • weather conditions

Edefonti V, Bravi F, Cioffi I, Capuozzo R, Ammendola L, Abate G, Decarli A, Ferraroni M, Farella M, Michelotti A. Chronic pain and weather conditions in patients suffering from Temporomandibular disorders: a pilot study. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol 2012; 40 (Suppl. 1): 56–64. © 2012 John Wiley & Sons A/S

Abstract –  Objectives:  Patients with temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) often report increased pain in response to changes in weather conditions. Nevertheless, scientific evidence supporting this relationship is scarce. The aim of this study was to assess a potential relationship between pain intensity and meteorological factors, through a newly developed, portable device, in patients affected by chronic masticatory muscle pain.

Methods:  Seven female subjects were diagnosed with myofascial pain of the masticatory muscles, according to RDC/TMD criteria, were recruited, and participated in the study. Each patient was provided with a portable data logger that recorded and stored weather variables (atmospheric pressure, air humidity, temperature) every 15 min. Patients were asked to record the level of perceived pain on an electronic visual analogue scale (VAS) every hour. The relationship between meteorological variables and pain scores was investigated using separate generalized least squares regression models with a correlation structure estimated via autoregressive integrated moving average models.

Results:  Individual VAS trajectories in the study period were different. The effect of meteorological factors on VAS scores was statistically significant in five subjects, with at least one main effect and/or one two-way interaction between meteorological variables being significant.

Conclusions:  The analyses suggest the existence of different interindividual responses to climatic changes. However, the identified putative role of meteorological variables and of their two-way interactions suggests that further investigations on larger samples may be useful to assess the research question under examination.