Clinical outcomes of Botox injections for chronic temporomandibular disorders: do we understand how Botox works?

The main objective of this retrospective review was to analyze the clinical outcomes following the use of botulinum toxin (onabotulinumtoxinA, Botox) injections to relieve the symptoms of chronic temporomandibular disorders (TMD). Seventy-one patients with a diagnosis of TMD (according to the RDC/TMD international consortium) associated with or without bruxism and refractory to conventional treatment (e.g. oral appliances, physiotherapy, etc.) received Botox injections into the temporalis and masseter muscles. Subjective responses to Botox were categorized as ‘beneficial’ or ‘not beneficial’, as patient-reported outcomes based on the subjective reduction in pain and/or improvement in function. Fifty-five of the 71 subjects (77%) reported beneficial effects with Botox. Subjects with a concomitant bruxism diagnosis reported significant improvement over subjects without bruxism (87% vs. 67%; P=0.042). Subjects with stress-related psychiatric comorbidities and bruxism had a significantly higher benefit than those with stress-related psychiatric comorbidities alone (P=0.027).

Patients reported less improvement if the time between the initial Botox injection and follow-up was less than an average of 5 weeks, compared to an average follow-up of 5-10 weeks (P=0.009). The subgroup TMD diagnosis and time interval post-injection are important predictors of patient-reported beneficial outcomes.