Pain in the orofacial region may originate from different structures, and one challenge for the clinician is to determine the primary origin of pain reported by the patient. In clinical practice, it is important to discriminate between a temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain disorder and jaw muscle pain; therefore, tests that are proposed for such purposes warrant evaluation. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the outcome of a TMJ compression test in relation to a Diagnostic Criteria for Temporomandibular Disorders (DC/TMD) arthralgia diagnosis.
A study population (n?=?300), randomly selected from the adult population in Västerbotten, Sweden, was examined according to the DC/TMD criteria and with a TMJ compression test. This test is comprised of forceful unilateral biting for 20 s on a wooden spatula in the first molar region. Familiar pain on the contralateral side to the clenching side was considered a positive test outcome.
Positive contralateral outcome of the TMJ compression test was associated with an arthralgia diagnosis (B?=?1.737; OR 5.7, 95% CI 3.3-9.9). This association was confounded by concurrent myalgia (B?=?1.737???B?=?0.996, 42.7%).
In a general population, a negative TMJ compression test was strongly associated with the absence of a contralateral TMJ arthralgia diagnosis according to DC/TMD. The association between a positive TMJ compression test and a DC/TMD arthralgia diagnosis was confounded by the presence of myalgia.
Concurrent myalgia renders the usefulness of the TMJ compression test for predicting an arthralgia diagnosis questionable.