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J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2009 Dec;19(6):e543-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jelekin.2008.10.002. Epub 2008 Nov 28.

Changes in EMG activity during clenching in chronic pain patients with unilateral temporomandibular disorders.

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Department of Stomatology, University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain.


The study assessed the differences in electromyographic (EMG) activity recorded during clenching in women with chronic unilateral temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) as compared to control subjects. Seventy-five full dentate, normo-occlusion, right-handed, similarly aged female subjects were recruited. Twenty five subjects presented with right side TMD, 25 presented with left side TMD and 25 pain-free control subjects participated. Using integrated surface EMG over a 1 s contraction, the anterior temporalis and masseter muscles were evaluated bilaterally while subjects performed maximum voluntary clenching. Lower EMG activation was observed in patients with TMD as compared to control subjects (temporalis: 195.74+/-18.57 vs. 275.74+/-22.11, P=0.011; masseters: 151.09+/-17.37 vs. 283.29+/-31.87, P<0.001). An asymmetry index (SAI) was calculated to determine ratios of right to left sided activation. Patients with right-sided TMD demonstrated preferential use of their left-sided muscles (SAI -5.35+/-4.02) whereas patients with left-sided TMD demonstrated preferential use of their right-sided muscles (SAI 6.95+/-2.82), (P=0.016). This unilateral reduction in temporalis and masseter activity could be considered as a specific protective functional adaptation of the neuromuscular system due to nociceptive input. The asymmetry index (SAI) may be a useful measure in discriminating patients with right vs. left-sided TMD.

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