Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome – or a pain in the jaw. It can present itself as a clicking when you chew, tension and pain in the face or even a general ache in the ear or side of the head.
To understand this condition let’s start with what the heck a temporomandibular joint is. Right where the jaw meets that nice little notch on the skull is your Temporo (Temporal Bone) mandibular (Mandible) joint. There’s a little disk in there, similar to the ones in your spine between the vertebrae. Now if that little bugger gets inflamed – bam – TMJ Syndrome. If that guy swells it’s going to be sore like any other swollen joint, and may even cause that joint to dislocate.
I’ve had discussions with my chiropractor and my dentist about this little beauty of a condition, as I frequently treat it in my office. What we’ve concluded is that in a majority of cases we see these patients/clients have forward head posture.
What does that have to do with the jaw? There can be other causes, but head posture seems to be a big player in this condition. There are muscles in the neck that open the jaw, and muscles in the face that close it. When you carry your head forward, meaning your head sits more forward than it should, muscles in the neck are now constantly being pulled and pull down on the jaw. In response many of these clients subconsciously will clench the jaw, especially while sleeping, to keep the mouth closed. Now we’ve got opposing forces pulling an already delicate joint and sliding the jaw around which irritates the joint and disk. No worries, it’s treatable. Depending on the cause either your chiropractor, massage therapist or dentist can get you some relief.
If any of this sound like something you have it’s worth having checked out. With any condition, the longer it’s left untreated the harder it is to fix when you do…and by that point it can be really painful.
-Jennifer Parker, Body Harmony Massage