Effectiveness of Cervical Spine High-Velocity, Low-Amplitude Thrust Added to Behavioral Education, Soft Tissue Mobilization, and Exercise for People With Temporomandibular Disorder With Myalgia: A Randomized Clinical Trial

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2020 Aug;50(8):455-465. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2020.9175. Epub 2020 Jan 6.


Objective: To determine the immediate and short-term effects of adding cervical spine high-velocity, low-amplitude thrust (HVLAT) to behavioral education, soft tissue mobilization, and a home exercise program on pain and dysfunction for people with a primary complaint of temporomandibular disorder (TMD) with myalgia.

Design: Randomized clinical trial.

Methods: Fifty individuals with TMD were randomly assigned to receive cervical HVLAT or sham manipulation for 4 visits over 4 weeks. Participants in both groups received other treatments, including standardized behavioral education, soft tissue mobilization, and a home exercise program. Primary outcomes included maximal mouth opening, the numeric pain-rating scale, the Jaw Functional Limitation Scale (JFLS), the Tampa Scale of Kinesiophobia for TMD (TSK-TMD), and a global rating of change (GROC). Self-report and objective measurements were taken at baseline, immediately after initial treatment, and follow-ups of 1 week and 4 weeks. A 2-by-4 mixed-model analysis of variance was used, with intervention group as the between-subjects factor and time as the within-subject factor. Separate analyses of variance were performed for dependent variables, and the hypothesis of interest was the group-by-time interaction.

Results: There was no significant interaction for maximal mouth opening, the numeric pain-rating scale, or secondary measures. There were significant 2-way interactions for the JFLS (d = 0.60) and TSK-TMD (d = 0.80). The HVLAT group had lower fear at 4 weeks and improved jaw function earlier (1 week). The GROC favored the HVLAT group, with significant differences in successful outcomes noted immediately after baseline treatment (thrust, 6/25; sham, 0/25) and at 4 weeks (thrust, 17/25; sham, 10/25).

Conclusion: Both groups improved over time; however, differences between groups were small. There were significant differences between groups for the JFLS, TSK-TMD, and GROC. The additive clinical effect of cervical HVLAT to standard care remains unclear for treating TMD. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2020;50(8):455-465. Epub 6 Jan 2020. doi:10.2519/jospt.2020.9175.

Keywords: joint mobilization; manual therapy; rehabilitation; temporomandibular joint.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Behavior Therapy*
  • Cervical Vertebrae / physiology
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Fear
  • Humans
  • Manipulation, Spinal / adverse effects
  • Manipulation, Spinal / methods*
  • Myalgia / therapy*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorders / physiopathology
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorders / psychology
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorders / therapy*