Temporo Mandibular Joint Disorders (TMJD) & Manual Osteopathy
TMJ stands for the temporo-mandibular joint, the joint which attaches the jaw (mandible) to the skull. The TMJ is essential for the movement of the jaw. It could be argued that this is one of the most frequently used joints in our body facilitating our ability to speak, sing, talk, chew food and swallow.
If you open and close your mouth you can feel the temporo-mandibular joint moving just below the ears. Often in the case of disorders, clicking can be heard with associated pain and discomfort; this is a sign of TMJ dysfunction (TMJD).
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, the prevalence of temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders range between 5% and 12%. The incidence of TMJD is higher among younger persons and occurs twice as frequently in women than men. In addition, there is a relationship between women using synthetic estrogens or oral contraceptives and development of TMJD, as studies indicate that synthetic estrogens may influence TMJ pain processing.
What happens when I visit a Manual Osteopathic Practitioner for TMJ?
The osteopathic approach to TMJD includes an assessment and observation of the head, neck and spinal relationships, taking into consideration the position of the TMJ in relation to the skull, cervical tissues and shoulder girdles. Specific treatment to the neck, jaw and cranio-facial bones involves treatment for soft tissues including muscles, ligaments and fascia. Osteopathy offers a drug- free option for pain management and addresses the root cause of TMJ disorder.
Techniques may be used to release tension at the articulations of the neck, cranial and facial bones, as well as the temporo-mandibular joints and potentially involve treatment of the whole body, as imbalances elsewhere (spine or pelvis) may contribute to pain and imbalance at the temporo-mandibular joint. Gentle stretches and techniques inside of the mouth can access the small muscles that directly attach to the TMJ. Of course, this type of intra-oral work is done with disposable gloves and in careful communication with the client to ensure consent and comfort.
A Manual Osteopathic Practitioner can help address all symptoms of TMJ disorders. During a consultation the manual osteopathic practitioner will provide an assessment and treat restrictions of the jaw while assessing the surrounding muscles. Daily specific jaw stretching and exercises may be provided to use at home to further relax the jaw, neck and shoulder muscles and enhance treatment.
There are limited allopathic or medical options available to treat temporomandibular disorders. A symptomatic approach may be using NSAIDS (which come with side effects long term) or there is the option of jaw reconstruction, disc surgery, orthodontics, or wearing a mouth guard. Many of these options are highly invasive; jaw reconstruction surgery can use synthetic or plastic material or involve harvesting tissue, muscle or ribs for rebuilding the joint. Surgery offers no guarantee and may complicate the jaw disorder leading to further alignment issues. Why not consider a less invasive treatment?
Clinical trials support the use of Manual osteopathy techniques and rehabilitation for individuals suffering from TMJD. Manual osteopathy provides a gentle, surgery free, safe approach to this painful jaw disorder.
Do you have TMJ Dysfunction? Common Signs & Symptoms
- Clicking and popping of the jaw when you open or close your mouth
- Pain in the jaw area (directly in front of the ears) with difficulty opening and closing the mouth
- Pain when yawning, chewing or biting
- Misalignment of how teeth fit together on the upper and lower jaw
- Bruxism: teeth grinding or clenching when asleep or awake
- Earaches or a sensation of fullness in ear
- Jaw pain or tenderness
- A jaw that gets stuck or locked (notably, in cold weather, when at the dentist or talking for extended periods)
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Shoulder pain
What Factors may contribute to TMJ Dysfunction?
- Clenching or grinding teeth while sleeping or tense
- A blow to the jaw from sports injury or other accidents and trauma
- Previous jaw surgery
- Extended stress and anxiety can tense and shorten muscles
- Motor vehicle accident injuries (like whiplash)
- Poor posture and body mechanics impacting the position of the lower jaw
- Structural damage to teeth leading to tooth loss
- Rheumatoid arthritis or other auto immune disorders
- Misalignment of the bite where teeth do not meet when the mouth is closed (malocclusion syndrome)
- Overuse such as with daily gum chewing, biting nails, hard chewing
- Thrusting the jaw forward during talking, exercising or during computer use
- People who are constantly speaking or using their voice as part of their occupation (singers)
Osteopathy is used to address a variety of health issues, including a drug free approach to jaw pain and TMJ disorders. If you want to know if Osteopathy is the right treatment for you, email us today and ask about Manual Osteopathy Therapy at Alchemy & Elixir Health Group in Vancouver, BC.
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