Cervico-mandibular muscle activity in females with chronic cervical pain a descriptive, cross-sectional, correctional study

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

Chronic musculoskeletal conditions of the spine and periphery are a burden both internationally and in South Africa. There is a socio-economic burden as a consequence of the severity, duration and recurrence of chronic cervical musculoskeletal conditions among information technology and sedentary office workers. However, the precise mechanisms behind chronic cervical disorders remain unclear. It is theorised that the pathophysiological mechanisms in chronic cervical musculoskeletal conditions share a similar theoretical framework to chronic pain itself. The biopsychosocial model of chronic pain accepts the dynamic nature of pain. This model accepts the dual biological and psychosocial components that enhance the experience and maintenance of chronic pain, through central sensitisation. There appears to be a neurophysiological, biomechanical and psychological link between the cervical area and the temporomandibular area. Although numerous studies have implied that individuals with temporomandibular disorders have concurrent cervical dysfunction, there is currently no evidence that individuals with cervical dysfunction exhibit altered muscle activity in the masseter and cervical erector spinae muscles or report teeth clenching habits. Consequently, identification of factors that may contribute to chronic cervical musculoskeletal conditions, stemming from the temporomandibular area, may potentially be lost. The aim of the present study was to explore the activity levels of the cervicomandibular muscles in females with chronic cervical musculoskeletal conditions, who showed no symptoms of temporomandibular disorders. This study had a descriptive cross-sectional correlational design with single-blinding. The telephonic screening process was followed by the signing of informed consent forms. Validated questionnaires were used for categorisation and comparison of the socio-demographic and biopsychosocial profiles of the pain group (n = 20) and the no pain group (n = 22). The screening, informed consent and questionnaires were completed by an assistant. The first of five questionnaires, the adapted Research Diagnostic Criteria History questionnaire, was used as an instrument for exclusion of temporomandibular disorders and the recording of a daytime parafunctional teeth clenching habit. The remaining four questionnaires, listed as the Neck Disability Index, the Computer Usage Questionnaire, the Brief Pain Inventory, and the EuroQol-5D were used for determining levels of cervical disability for categorisation and comparison between groups, as well as for determining levels of pain-related disability, occupational and sporting activity, and health related quality of life.

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