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Vol. 74, No. 7
ISSN: 1488-2159
September 2008


Initial Investigation of the Relation between Extended Computer Use and Temporomandibular Joint Disorders


• Romina Perri, DMD •
• Veronika Huta, PhD •
• Leonard Pinchuk, PhD, DSc •
• Cindy Pinchuk, MSE •
• David J. Ostry, PhD •
• James P. Lund, BDS, PhD •

A b s t r a c t

Aim: To determine if temporomandibular joint disorders (TMDs) are associated with extended computer use.

Materials and Methods: People with chronic pain and extensive computer use were recruited by means of a newspaper advertisement. Those who responded to the ad were asked to complete an online survey, which included questions on computer use, medical history, pain symptoms, lifestyle and mood.

Results: Ninety-two people completed the online survey, but none of them responded to all questions in the survey. Of the 88 respondents who reported their sex, 49 (56%) were female. Most of the respondents had used computers for more than 5 hours per day for more than 5 years, and most believed that their pain was linked to computer use. The great majority had pain in the neck (73/89 [82%]) or shoulder (67/89 [75%]), but many (40/91 [44%]) also had symptoms of TMD. About half of the participants reported poor sleep and fatigue, and many linked their pain to negative effects on lifestyle and poor quality of life. Two multiple regressions, with duration of pain as the dependent variable, were carried out, one using the entire sample of respondents who had completed the necessary sections of the survey (n = 91) and the other using the subset of people with symptoms suggestive of TMD (n = 40). Duration of computer use was associated with duration of pain in both analyses, but 6 other independent variables (injury or arthritis, hours of daily computer use, stress, position of computer screen relative to the eyes, sex, and age) were without effect. In these regression analyses, the intercept was close to 0 years, which suggests that the pain began at about the same time as computer use.

Discussion: This web-based survey provides the first evidence that chronic pain in jaw muscles and other symptoms of TMD are associated with long-term, heavy use of computers. However, the great majority of people with these symptoms probably also suffer from pain in the shoulder and neck.


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