The jaw joint is also known as the temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ) and is located where the cheek bone and lower jaw come together. The joint has a disc separating the two bones which is moved by muscle and elastic connective tissue much like a rubber band. The disc can become displaced causing problems with movement and pain.
The TMJ is engaged by swallowing around 2500 times a day, to add to that figure is talking, teeth cleaning etc and is the most used joint in the body. Wear and tear on one or both joints can manifest in muscular aches and pains and even affect the alignment of the body - around 75% of people have a weak TMJ.
Misalignment of the TMJ typically affects around 30% of the population contributing to problems such as neck pain, back pain, shoulder pain, headaches, migraine, hearing loss, tinnitus, labyrinthitis, trigeminal neuralgia and more. Problems with the TMJ are termed Temporo-mandibular joint disorder (TMD) and are typically symptoms of:
- ‘Locked jaw’ – restriction in movement of the jaw
- Noise when the jaw is opened – cracking, clicking, crunching, popping or grating
- Pain – An ache in front of the ear or side of the face
- Dizziness and vision problems
If not treated chronic TMD conditions may lead to depression, chronic fatigue, sleep disorders, decreased productivity, withdrawal and decreased libido.
Excessive use of the TMJ can cause the muscles to tighten and may cause the cartilage disc to slip forward.
Causes of excessive use include:
- Stress or anxiety
- Bruxism – grinding of the teeth or clenching of the teeth
- Loss of a large number of back teeth
- Nail biting
- An uneven bite
- Excessive chewing gum use
Most of the time people are unaware that they grind their teeth in their sleep, in fact 8-10% of the population do it. Your dentist will tell you if there is excess wear and tear on your teeth and may recommend a mouth guard to wear at night.
Possible causes of TMJ displacement
- Car accident or other accident
- Blow or punch to the jaw
- A difficult birth
- Excessive hand held device use
- Poor posture
- Sleeping on your hand – holding your jaw out of alignment for up to eight hours is like a long slow punch!
With the Bowen Technique we work on realigning the TMJ through the fascia system which runs through and around our muscles, ligaments and tendons. Treatment is precise, effective and gentle. As well as addressing symptoms of a weak or misaligned TMJ we may also look at the TMJ for conditions involving the nervous system, the hormonal system and pelvis stability due to the balancing effect on the spine and hypothalamus. We might also apply the TMJ procedures for sinus issues, ear problems, allergies, coughs, eye problems, meniere’s disease, ADHD, whiplash and hayfever.
By Maxine Crinall
For more information on The Bowen Technique please go to The Bowen Technique | Seale Natural Health | Farnham, Surrey