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When you come in to have your TMJ evaluated, your physical therapist may examine your neck as it can contribute to and exacerbate TMD symptoms.  Often times, those with cervical involvement also have headaches. 

Sensitive areas in the cervical (neck) muscles, may refer pain to the temporal, mandibular, frontal, preauricular, retro-orbital and posterior and superior areas of the head. Additionally, problems with cervical spine can cause orofacial pain and/or headaches. In fact, evidence has been cited describing an increase in cervical spine problems in those presenting with TMDs.

Your physical therapist will perform a thorough cervical spine examination if a cervical order is suspected. Cervical involvement may be suspected if you have reduced neck range of motion, pain during the neck exam, reduced strength in the cervical muscles and referred pain to the jaw or face with palpation of cervical muscles.

This information, along with a thorough history, will help determine whether your neck is causing or exacerbating headaches and TMJ pain. If it is believed your neck is involved, it will be treated. We will closely monitor the effect of treating your neck on your TMJ symptoms to assess the effectiveness of our neck treatments. This information will further inform us whether your neck is contributing to your TMJ symptoms. 

(Harrison et al., 2014)


  1. Harrison, A. L., Thorp, J. N., & Ritzline, P. D. (2014). A proposed diagnostic classification of patients with temporomandibular disorders: Implications for physical therapists. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 44(3), 182–197. https://doi.org/10.2519/jospt.2014.4847
  2. Silveira, A., Gadotti, I. C., Armijo-Olivo, S., Biasotto-Gonzalez, D. A., & Magee, D. (2015). Jaw dysfunction is associated with neck disability and muscle tenderness in subjects with and without chronic temporomandibular disorders. BioMed Research International, 2015, 1–7. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/512792

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