Neck Solutions Blog

March 8, 2011

Effect of treatment of temporomandibular disorders (TMD) in patients with cervicogenic headache: a single-blind, randomized controlled study

Filed under: Headaches,Neck Pain,TMJ Pain — Administrator @ 4:23 am

Effect of treatment of temporomandibular disorders (TMD) in patients with cervicogenic headache: a single-blind, randomized controlled study

From: Cranio. 2011 Jan;29(1):43-56.

The present study was comprised of 43 patients (16 men) with cervicogenic headaches for over three months, diagnosed according to the International Classification of Diagnostic Criteria of Headaches (ICDH-II). The patients were randomly assigned to receive either manual therapy for the cervical region (usual care group) or additional manual therapy techniques to the temporomandibular region to additionally influence temporomandibular disorders. All patients were assessed prior to treatment, after six sessions of treatment, and at a six-month follow-up. The outcome criteria were: intensity of headaches measured on a colored analog scale, the Neck Disability Index (Dutch version), the Conti Anamnestic Questionnaire, noise registration at the mandibular joint using a stethoscope, the Graded Chronic Pain Status (Dutch version), mandibular deviation, range of mouth opening, and pressure/pain threshold of the masticatory muscles.

The results indicate in the studied sample of cervicogenic headache patients, 44.1% had temporomandibular disorders. The group that received additional temporomandibular manual therapy techniques showed significantly decreased headache intensities and increased neck function after the treatment period. These improvements persisted during the treatment-free period (follow-up) and were not observed in the usual care group. This trend was also reflected on the questionnaires and the clinical temporomandibular signs. Based on these observations, we strongly believe that treatment of the temporomandibular region has beneficial effects for patients with cervicogenic headaches, even in the long-term.

In The effects of manual therapy and exercise directed at the cervical spine on pain and pressure pain sensitivity in patients with myofascial temporomandibular disorders. J Oral Rehabil. 2009 Sep;36(9):644-52. Epub 2009 Jul 14.

Treatments were directed at the cervical spine in patients with temporomandibular disorders. Our aim was to investigate the effects of joint mobilization and exercise directed at the cervical spine on pain intensity and pressure pain sensitivity in the muscles of mastication in patients with temporomandibular disorders.

It was concluded, The application of treatment directed at the cervical spine may be beneficial in decreasing pain intensity, increasing pain pressure thresholds over the masticatory muscles and an increasing pain-free mouth opening in patients with myofascial temporomandibular disorders.

In, Cervicogenic headaches: a critical review. Spine J. 2001 Jan-Feb;1(1):31-46. The review indicated: Hilton described the concept of headaches originating from the cervical spine in 1860. In 1983 Sjaastad introduced the term “cervicogenic headache”. Diagnostic criteria have been established by several expert groups, with agreement that these headaches start in the neck or occipital region and are associated with tenderness of cervical paraspinal tissues. Prevalence estimates range from 0.4% to 2.5% of the general population to 15% to 20% of patients with chronic headaches. cervicogenic headache affects patients with a mean age of 42.9 years, has a 4:1 female disposition, and tends to be chronic. Almost any pathology affecting the cervical spine has been implicated in the genesis of cervicogenic headache as a result of convergence of sensory input from the cervical structures within the spinal nucleus of the trigeminal nerve.

The main differential diagnoses are tension type headache and migraine headache, with considerable overlap in symptoms and findings between these conditions. No specific pathology has been noted on imaging or diagnostic studies which correlates with cervicogenic headache. cervicogenic headache seems unresponsive to common headache medication. Small, noncontrolled case series have reported moderate success with surgery and injections. A few randomized controlled trials and a number of case series support the use of cervical manipulation, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, and botulinum toxin injection.

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