The Temporomandibular joint (TMJ): A whole body approach to jaw pain

In Osteopathy, the TMJ is often referred to as the “joint of expression.” 

The only dual joint in the body, it allows us to communicate, breathe, chew, swallow and even throw up (sorry!)🤢🙊. What’s also fascinating about this area, is the role this structure plays in our overall balance of posture. 

Have you experienced a trauma such as a fall, car accident or dental work? Do you enjoy chewing gum or smoking? How about playing sports or wearing a mouth guard? If so, your TMJ may not be functioning as optimal as it could be and may be affecting your postural balance. 

So, how are my TMJ and posture related? Try this exercise to see what I mean:

  1. Stand with your eyes closed and bring your attention to your feet. Notice how the weight is distributed in your feet: Is your weight more in the front than the back? Left more than right? 
  2. Simply notice this, don’t change it. 
  3. Now with your eyes still closed, push your jaw forward: did this change how you distribute the weight in your feet? How did the rest of your body respond? 
  4. What happens when you retract your jaw backwards?
  5. Now try it with your abdomen. Stick your belly out. Draw your belly in. Did the rest of your body respond? How?

Trisha believes the body is a functional unit, meaning it all works together — even when you have TM joint dysfunction, it is still important to assess the whole body, to see how your whole body is functioning. More importantly, as this is such an adaptable area, it should be able to adapt to everyday changes of movement.

If you are someone already experiencing pain in your jaw, or it makes sounds like snapping and clicking, you grind your teeth or worse yet you have experienced locking. These are all signs and symptoms you may have a problem in this area.  

Muscles such as the ptyergoids, temporalis and masseters can loose synchronicity over time leading to dysfunction and more or less movement on one side of the jaw. The articular disc too can loose congruency with the condyle and result in pain, open lock, closed lock or dyskinesia! 

If you experience any of the following, having assessment and treatment of your TMJ may be beneficial:

  • Headaches
  • Vertigo
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Ear Infection
  • Pressure in the ears
  • Pain in the ear
  • Eyesight troubles
  • Neck pain, injury or whiplash
  • Shoulder girdle troubles .. that’s right there is musculature which run from your shoulder to your jaw! (See: Omohyoid, SCM and UFT) 
  • Problems with digestion or you’re ear, nose or throat  

Your TM joint is used up to 10,000 times a day! 😯 It’s a crucial area to treat and Trisha has the skills necessary to work intra orally (in the mouth) to get you feeling better today. 

P.S.: The next time you are at a rock show, tune in to the jaw of a musician (Not the lead singer, but someone else in the band) you’ll be shocked at how much movement they have. This emotional charge, tension and strain is all taken up by the TMJ! Fascinating right?

Happy learning, happy minds, happy bodies! 

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