Monday June 23, 2015
What Is TMJ Disorder?
TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, which is the jaw joint that connects the mandible, or the bone of the lower jaw, to the temporal bones of the skull on either side of the head. Symptoms of TMJ disorder (often referred to as just TMJ) include:
Pain in the jaw and surrounding muscles… Grinding/clicking of the jaw… Jaw muscle stiffness… Locking of the jaw. Remember the jaw is a joint just like the knee, ankle, finger etc.
TMJ can develop from injuries…such as a broken jaw. Stress, grinding teeth, gum chewing, poor posture, dental work, arthritis to name a few.
Usual treatments consist of simple jaw exercises, bite adjustments, simple occlusal guards…more elaborate guards, medicines. More extreme cases could be treated with injections or surgery.
I have worked in a dental office for over 20 years and have seen cases of TMJ. TMJ can be a nuisance and should be treated conservatively at first…then more advanced measures if the symptoms can not be managed. Managing symptoms is how to manage pain. We do the same thing for back pain, neck pain, wrist pain. The jaw is a bone with a joint that is moved and supported by muscle and ligaments…just like all of our other joints. The more you can manage pain by motion the better.
Since I am a “body” person…lets talk forward head posture being a possible cause of TMJ. The average 10-12 pound head we all have is supposed to balance directly between our two shoulders. When the head juts forward it becomes heavier increasing the weight and the stress on our neck, shoulder, upper back. Some of those neck muscles are attached to our jaw. When these joints are out of position…the muscles have to work very hard in order to balance our head. When soft tissue is strained, or overworked it can it will pull on the bones causing malalignments. When we are out of alignment our brain calls for help from other muscles…this cause muscles that should be doing their job to rest. This becomes a cycle of some muscles doing to much and some not doing anything…hence “muscle imbalance”.
Posture is the ability to balance the body. Some of us have really good posture, some pretty good and some really poor posture. Therefore, people with poor posture…specifically “forward head syndrome” have musculature that is really stressed and working harder than it should to hold the head up.
If you have TMJ issues…get your posture looked at. Forward head posture can be improved. The shoulder, neck, traps, rhomboids can be strengthen to help get the head back in better alignment which in turn take stress off that jaw. Foundation Training is perfect for this. Foundation Training is posture work for the posterior musculature.