Introduction: Subjective tinnitus that is influenced by the somatosensory system is called somatosensory tinnitus (ST). When ST is related to the temporomandibular area, multidisciplinary orofacial treatment can reduce tinnitus severity. It is, however, unknown if we can predict this positive outcome. The aim of this study is to look for prognostic indicators that can predict a positive outcome after multidisciplinary orofacial treatment in patients with ST.
Methods: Patients were included when they were diagnosed with temporomandibular-related ST and received a maximum of 18 sessions of orofacial treatment during a 9-week program. Predictors for positive treatment outcome were identified using univariate and multiple logistic regression analyses with the Tinnitus Questionnaire (TQ) and the Tinnitus Functional Index (TFI) as dependent variables.
Results: The results of 101 patients were included in the analysis. Immediately after multidisciplinary orofacial treatment, a clinically relevant decrease in TQ score was significantly associated with "shorter duration of tinnitus" [odds ratio (OR) 0.99], "higher initial score on the TQ somatic subscale" (OR 1.52), and "painful palpation of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ)" (OR 2.46). After 9 weeks of follow-up, the "higher initial score on the TQ somatic subscale" remained as the sole predictor (OR 1.44). A clinically relevant decrease on TFI after 9 weeks of follow-up was predicted by "female gender" (OR 2.70), "younger age" (OR 0.96), "shorter duration of the tinnitus" (OR 0.99), "lower pressure pain thresholds (PPT) on TMJ" (OR 0.99), "lower PPT on sternocleidomastoid origin" (OR 0.99), and "better speech in noise perception" (OR 0.88). A multivariate model comprising "shorter duration of tinnitus" and "higher initial score on the somatic subscale of the TQ" correctly predicts the clinically relevant decrease in TQ score after treatment in 68.5%. A second multivariate model comprising "female gender," "younger age," and "shorter duration of the tinnitus" correctly predicts a clinically significant decrease on TFI after follow-up in 68.1%.
Conclusion: We were able to identify various prognostic indicators. "Younger female patients" with a "shorter duration of tinnitus" and a "higher initial score on the TQ somatic subscale" appear to have the best prognosis after multimodal orofacial therapy.