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Keywords:

  • Burning mouth syndrome;
  • acupuncture;
  • visual analogue scale ;
  • SF-36;
  • Health-related quality of life

Abstract

Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) is a chronic condition most common in middle-aged and elderly women, with prevalence rates in the general population ranging from 0.5% to 5%. Defined by the International Headache Society as “an intraoral burning sensation for which no medical or dental cause can be found,” BMS is considered a form of neuropathic pain. The management of BMS remains unsatisfactory. In this pilot study, we investigated the use of acupuncture in a small group of BMS patients. The study group, after 4 refusals, was composed of 10 BMS patients (9 females and 1 male; mean age, 65.2 years; range, from 48 to 80 years; mean duration of BMS, 2.6 years; SD ± 0.8 years). Oral pain/burning sensation (primary outcome) was measured using a visual analogue scale (VAS). Health-related quality of life (secondary outcome) was measured using the 36-item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36). Acupuncture treatment lasted 8 weeks and consisted of 20 sessions. Patients reported a mean reduction in pain of 0.99 points on the VAS (max 2.1–min 0.1), which, although slight, was statistically significant (Wilcoxon test < 0.009). No significant improvement in the overall score for quality of life was observed, although subjects receiving acupuncture treatment seemed better able cope with their oral symptoms.