Many patients suffer from host of symptoms after an auto collision: neck pain, whiplash, headache, and even jaw pain. Studies show that patients with whiplash frequently develop temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD), or dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint, located in the jaw. TMD may contribute to cervicogenic headaches by affecting cervical spine, or the region of the spine running through your neck.
It’s crucial for patients to receive treatment that address the multi-faceted nature of auto injuries. A new study highlights how manual therapies like chiropractic can offer this multidimensional treatment.
The study examined whether manual therapies applied to the neck, jaw, and face improved the impaired movement associated with temporomandibular dysfunction in patients with both headaches and TMD.
The study involved 43 patients with cervicogenic headaches and TMD. Half received cervical manual therapy, the usual treatment employed by manual therapists for patients with these symptoms. The other half underwent cervical manual therapy and orofacial manual therapy, in order to focus on addressing TMD. Participants were assessed at the start of the study, after three months (six treatment sessions) and at six months follow-up. At each assessment, researchers determined participants’ cervical range of movement and conducted manual examination of the upper three cervical vertebrae.
The group receiving the combined treatment showed significant reduction in cervical impairment following treatment. These improvements continued into the six-month follow-up. Comparable improvements were not seen in the group receiving only cervical manual therapy. These observations suggest that features of TMD should be considered when examining patients with headache, particularly if cervical manual therapy has not been effective at treating their symptoms.
By employing a combination of manual therapies, the study suggests that chiropractors can effectively ease jaw dysfunction and headache.
Written by Megan Churchwell and Marissa Luck
Von Piekartz H, Hall, T. Orofacial manual therapy improves cervical movement impairment associated with headache and features of temporomandibular dysfunction: A randomized controlled trial. Manual Therapy 10 (1016).