Changes in cervical movement impairment and pain following orofacial treatment in patients with chronic arthralgic temporomandibular disorder with pain: A prospective case series
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of isolated temporomandibular joint (TMJ) manual therapy on pain and range of motion (ROM) of the TMJ and cervical spine including flexion-rotation test (FRT) in people suffering chronic pain arising from chronic arthralgic temporomandibular disorder (TMD). An experienced clinician managed a case series of 12 patients with TMD (mean duration 28.6 months +/- 26.9). The intervention comprised four-weekly sessions of transverse medial accessory TMJ mobilization and advice. Patients were examined prior to and one-week following the intervention period. Outcome measures included jaw disability (JFLS-20), jaw pain measured by Visual Analogue Scale (VAS), maximal mouth opening ROM, cervical ROM including FRT, and pain during cervical movement. A paired t-test revealed significant improvement following the intervention in disability (p < 0.001), VAS pain score at rest (p < 0.001) and at maximum mouth opening (p < 0.001), jaw opening ROM (p < 0.001), FRT ROM to the left (p = 0.024) and right (p = 0.001). In contrast, no significant change was identified for total cervical ROM (p = 0.905). After the intervention, five patients (41.66%) had no pain at rest or at maximal mouth opening, and all had a negative FRT. The effect sizes indicate a moderate to strong, clinically significant effect for all variables apart from total cervical ROM. While a case series cannot identify a cause and effect relationship, these results provide preliminary evidence for the influence of TMJ manual therapy on measures of TMD including pain, as well as upper but not whole cervical movement and associated pain in patients with a diagnosis of TMJ arthralgia.
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