Referral patterns for temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) in Greater Manchester

Rema Hamad Ailish SE Clark Iain A Pretty

Referral patterns for temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) in Greater Manchester

Authors: Rema Hamad Ailish SE Clark Iain A Pretty
doi: 10.1922/CDH_00042Hamad05

Abstract

Background: Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) affect up to 50% of the population. Chronic TMD may have a significant impact on patients’ quality of life and is associated with a significant cost burden to health services. Aims: The aim of this study was to investigate the incidence of TMD in Greater Manchester and to determine the most appropriate setting for its management. Methods: Data were retrospectively collected on the demographics, symptoms and management provided to patients referred for TMD. Results: There were 789 referrals analysed; 616 to a Tertiary Centre and 173 to a District General Hospital (DGH). The most common reason for referral was pain (82%), followed by limitation in opening (55%) and clicks or sounds (44%). 27% of referrals were managed with a splint and 12% were provided with advice or a patient information leaflet prior to referral. Discussion: The effect of chronic pain on patients’ quality of life and the cost burden of its management compels us to review current practices in referral and management of TMD. Barriers to provision of treatment in primary care may include a lack of training, remuneration or confidence. These may be overcome with the development of self-care plans for patients and a care pathway for practitioners. Conclusion: Based on existing evidence, timely and conservative management of TMD should be encouraged in primary care, enabling better outcomes to be achieved for patients and the maintenance of the experience and skill level of specialist services in secondary care. Keywords: Temporomandibular Disorders, Pain, Referral Pathway

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