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Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop. 1990 Jan;97(1):20-34.

Adaptation of craniofacial muscles in subjects with craniomandibular disorders.

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  • 1Department of Growth and Development, School of Dentistry, University of California, San Francisco.


The purpose of this study was to examine muscle function in subjects with muscle pain. Forty-three subjects with pain in the craniomandibular muscles, clinically determined by manual palpation, were studied for alteration in recruitment of temporalis, masseter, and suprahyoid muscles during a series of phasic movements. Seventeen normal subjects were used as controls. The subjects with muscle pain were divided into three subgroups: (1) those with pain in both mandibular and neck muscles; (2) those with pain in these two muscle groups with joint degeneration; and (3) those subjects with pain only in mandibular muscles. Surface electromyographic (EMG) recordings were taken as each subject performed 16 different responses in which mandibular incisor movement was tracked simultaneously. The results show that the subjects with muscle pain use their anterior temporalis muscles with less frequency (i.e., probability) and with less intensity in several responses than normal subjects. These responses include rapid vertical closing movements, retrusion, ipsilateral laterotrusion, and natural as well as contralateral mastication. The masseter muscle is impaired much less in its function, and the recruitment of the suprahyoid muscles is not affected in the patients with muscle pain. Comparison of the bilateral activity in the anterior temporalis muscles during intercuspal clenching shows that the subjects with muscle pain often demonstrate a more severe asymmetrical recruitment of these muscles than the more symmetrical recruitment seen in normal subjects. Similar observations were made for the masseter muscle. These studies demonstrate that subjects with muscle pain in craniomandibular muscles alter the recruitment of their jaw muscles, thus supporting the concept that the neuromuscular system is altered in patients with craniomandibular disorders.

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