To assess neck disability with respect to jaw disability, craniocervical position, cervical alignment, and sensorimotor impairments in patients with temporomandibular disorders (TMD), a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies trials were conducted. The meta-analysis showed statistically significant differences in the association between neck disability and jaw disability (standardized mean difference (SMD), 0.72 (0.56-0.82)). However, results showed no significant differences for cervical alignment (SMD, 0.02 (-0.31-0.36)) or for the craniocervical position (SMD, -0.09 (-0.27-0.09)). There was moderate evidence for lower pressure pain thresholds (PPT) and for limited cervical range of motion (ROM). There was limited evidence for equal values for maximal strength between the patients with TMD and controls. There was also limited evidence for reduced cervical endurance and conflicting evidence for abnormal electromyographic (EMG) activity and motor control in TMD patients. Results showed a clinically relevant association between cervical and mandibular disability in patients with TMD. Regarding sensory-motor alterations, the most conclusive findings were observed in the reduction of PPT and cervical ROM, with moderate evidence of their presence in the patients with TMD. Lastly, the evidence on impaired motor control and cervical EMG activity in patients with TMD was conflicting.
Keywords: cervical spine; jaw disability; motor control; neck disability; sensory-motor variables; temporomandibular disorders.