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Temporomandibular Joint Disorders among Patients With Arthritis Receiving Treatment at the Kenyatta National Hospital

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Background: Like any other joint in the body, the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) can be involved in any arthritic condition. It is thus not uncommon for patients with arthritis to present with TMJ disorders. Although pain is the main presenting complaint, progressive joint deformity may occur in uncontrolled disease. For proper management, early diagnosis is essential. The mainstay of diagnosis is a thorough clinical examination. Various imaging modalities may also be used to visualize the internal joint structure. The severity of the disease process dictates the management protocol to be adopted.

Objective: To describe the prevalence of Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders among patients with arthritis who were treated at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) between August and October 2012.

Study design: The study was a descriptive cross-sectional study

Study area: The study was carried out at the Rheumatology clinic and the medical wards of Kenyatta National Hospital, Nairobi.

Study population: The study involved patients visiting the rheumatology clinic and those admitted to the medical wards at KNH who had been diagnosed with an arthritic condition.

Methodology: A self administered questionnaire was completed by the participants with the help of the researcher followed by a clinical examination of the TMJ performed by the researcher and his assistants.

Results: TMJ disorders were found to have a high prevalence among patients with arthritis. 74.22% of the participants had symptomatic temporomandibular joints. The prevalence was found to be higher (83.7%) in Rheumatoid arthritis than in osteoarthritis (45%). The prevalence and severity of the symptoms increased with the duration of the disease with those who had the disease for more than 10 years reporting most of the severe symptoms. Development of sounds over the joint was found to be one of the earlier indicators of a developing TMJ disorder.

Conclusion: There was high prevalence of TMJ disorders in patients with arthritis. The severity of the disorders invariably correlated with the severity of the disease as estimated with the duration of the disease and the severity of the present symptoms.

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