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Journal of Oral & Facial Pain and Headache



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J Orofac Pain 29 (2015), No. 4     20. Oct. 2015
J Orofac Pain 29 (2015), No. 4  (20.10.2015)

Page 340-348

Alterations in Masticatory Muscle Activation in People with Persistent Neck Pain Despite the Absence of Orofacial Pain or Temporomandibular Disorders
Testa, Marco / Geri, Tommaso / Gizzi, Leonardo / Petzke, Frank / Falla, Deborah
Aim: To assess whether patients with persistent neck pain display evidence of altered masticatory muscle behavior during a jaw-clenching task, despite the absence of orofacial pain or temporomandibular disorders.
Methods: Ten subjects with persistent, nonspecific neck pain and 10 age- and sex-matched healthy controls participated. Maximal voluntary contractions (MVCs) of unilateral jaw clenching followed by 5-second submaximal contractions at 10%, 30%, 50%, and 70% MVC were recorded by two flexible force transducers positioned between the first molar teeth. Task performance was quantified by mean distance and offset error from the reference target force as error indices, and standard deviation of force was used as an index of force steadiness. Electromyographic (EMG) activity was recorded bilaterally from the masseter muscle with 13 × 5 grids of electrodes and from the anterior temporalis with bipolar electrodes. Normalized EMG root mean square (RMS) was computed for each location of the grid to form a map of the EMG amplitude distribution, and the average normalized RMS was determined for the bipolar acquisition. Between-group differences were analyzed with the Kruskal Wallis analysis of variance.
Results: Task performance was similar in patients and controls. However, patients displayed greater masseter EMG activity bilaterally at higher force levels (P < .05).
Conclusion: This study has provided novel evidence of altered motor control of the jaw in people with neck pain despite the absence of orofacial pain or temporomandibular disorders.

Keywords: bite force, electromyography, masticatory muscles, motor control, neck pain