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Man Ther. 2013 Aug;18(4):345-50. doi: 10.1016/j.math.2012.12.005. Epub 2013 Feb 14.

Orofacial manual therapy improves cervical movement impairment associated with headache and features of temporomandibular dysfunction: a randomized controlled trial.

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  • 1University of Applied Science, Department of Rehabilitation, Osnabrück, Germany.


There is evidence that temporomandibular disorder (TMD) may be a contributing factor to cervicogenic headache (CGH), in part because of the influence of dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint on the cervical spine. The purpose of this randomized controlled trial was to determine whether orofacial treatment in addition to cervical manual therapy, was more effective than cervical manual therapy alone on measures of cervical movement impairment in patients with features of CGH and signs of TMD. In this study, 43 patients (27 women) with headache for more than 3-months and with some features of CGH and signs of TMD were randomly assigned to receive either cervical manual therapy (usual care) or orofacial manual therapy to address TMD in addition to usual care. Subjects were assessed at baseline, after 6 treatment sessions (3-months), and at 6-months follow-up. 38 subjects (25 female) completed all analysis at 6-months follow-up. The outcome criteria were: cervical range of movement (including the C1-2 flexion-rotation test) and manual examination of the upper 3 cervical vertebra. The group that received orofacial treatment in addition to usual care showed significant reduction in all aspects of cervical impairment after the treatment period. These improvements persisted to the 6-month follow-up, but were not observed in the usual care group at any point. These observations together with previous reports indicate that manual therapists should look for features of TMD when examining patients with headache, particularly if treatment fails when directed to the cervical spine.

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