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Papers of the Week

2019 10

Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg



The specialist management of non-temporomandibular orofacial pain: maxillofacial surgery’s known unknown?


Awal DH, Amin K, Venda-Nova C, Naqvi A, Zakrzewska J
Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2019 10; 57(8):749-754.
PMID: 31307826.


The management of orofacial pain is considered to be within the remit of oral and maxillofacial surgery (OMFS). In this study we aimed to provide an overview of the healthcare "journey" of a group of patients referred to a specialist unit with "complex" non-temporomandibular orofacial pain. We retrospectively reviewed all those who were referred over a six-month period and followed for up to three years. A total of 133 were included, 69% were female, and the mean (SD) duration of symptoms before assessment was 66.4 (88.8) months. Patients were treated for seven different conditions by a mean (SD) of 2.6 (1.2) specialties, and 3.2 (2.5) medications had been tried before assessment at the unit. A mean (SD) of 3.9 (3.3) appointments were attended over the three years, and 80% of patients were prescribed at least one medication. Patients were under the care of the unit for a mean (SD) of 11.9 (14.0) months, and 38% were still being seen at three years. Those with trigeminal neuralgia were most likely to remain in care at three years (p=<0.001), and those with burning mouth syndrome (p=<0.001) or persistent idiopathic facial pain (p=0.005) were most likely to be discharged. In the current NHS climate, the lack of resources to treat facial pain and the focus on a mix of skills, mean that OMF surgeons are likely to have an increasing role in the treatment of these patients. This paper provides an important insight into these conditions.