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TMD and Its Relationship to Posture

Alan Hayhoe
 


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It's no fun and can ruin your day! Every time you open your mouth, your jaw clicks and occasionally it may lock. Often there is a sharp pain. Eventually it results in constant pain that leads to an avoidance of doing anything that will aggravate the pain, but it is pretty hard to stop eating, or talking. It is commonly known as temporomandibular disorder (TMD). Who wants to restrict the movement of the jaw? Not me! I want to minimize any restrictions on movement in any joint - particularly my mouth.

Abundant information is available on jaw pain. This is an article about eliminating a big factor; forward head posture. The body is a unit. Bone structures are bound together though muscle and connective tissues. The connecting and binding tissues work best when they work at the length they are designed to. When the tissues are not stretched enough, they tighten and restrict mobility.

All joints are surrounded by muscles that work against each other - to pull them in different directions. We define a beginning point (the more stable base point called the origin), and end point where it moves something (called the insertion) If one group is stretched and the other is tight, unhealthy pressures are put on the joints and over time there is uneven wear and then - pain.

The jaw is no different. A common position in adults today is some degree of forward head posture. It means that the head is not ideally aligned through the neck to the body. There are many reasons for this today. People have stresses because of their occupation. They sit at a work station, they bend over their garden, their patients, they carry backpacks . . . etc. Forward head is usually linked with rounded shoulders posture.

The end result is that we have to extend our head back if we want to see ahead and not be looking toward our feet. The jaw is pulled up and back causing painful compression of the temporomandibular joints (TMJ's).

The answer is to correct the position in order to allow the TMJ's to rest and heal. That requires a change of posture. Not only will it help the chronic pain in the jaw, but the rest of your body will thank you as well.

Am I making this up? Not at all. There are several studies published showing this relationship and it is well known in dental circles and to spine care professionals. One article I would call your attention to is entitled TMD/Facial Pain and Forward Head Posture . It is co-authored by Leonard B. Goldstein, DDS, PhD and Howard W. Makofsky, PT, DHSc, OCS . They co-directed the TMJ Center at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, New York in the 1990's. Dr. Makofsky, a physical therapist, is the inventor of the PostureJac. A link is provided by clicking the article title above. Treatment of TMD requires a recognition of contributing factors. Treatment of the cause may require the services of more than a dentist. Imagine seeing a Physical Therapist or Chiropractor for jaw pain!

The article refers to a variety of strategies therapists use to change structures and habits related to forward head posture. We suggest that you consider the PostureJac as a viable tool to change your postural habits. Ideally it helps you to adopt a more healthy alignment as your normal position. No one wants to be strapped up or held in place artificially. It doesn't work that way. It integrates into your life as an easy access trainer as a reminder of optimal posture. Ultimately it is to internalize a healthy alignment as the preferred position.

In order to do that, some things have to be stretched, some things have to be strengthened, and some things have to be mobilized. The therapeutic community actively treats people for these conditions. However our natural tendency is to return to old habits in familiar surroundings. Returning home after treatment, we surrender to our habits in our familiar environment and resist change.

If we have a change agent integrated into our daily activities, the chance of change increases. We are not suggesting that it substitutes for regular therapy but it may break the cycle of endless dependence. One person testified that shortly after he began using it, he had his regular chiropractic treatment. The chiropractor remarked how easily he was adjusted. The next week, even better!

Osteopathic physicians talk about the “unity of the body". When body posture deviates from normal in one region, related areas are also affected. And so it is with posturally-related TMD. If you can relieve temporomandibular joint pain by correcting your posture would it be worth it to you?

More information is available at www.posturejac.com.

Alan Hayhoe is President of SomatoCentric Systems Inc. He has a BSc.in Biomedical Sciences, BEd. , and MEd. and experience in teaching and counseling. SomatoCentric Systems Inc. was formed in 2006 to bring unique products to the market that improve the strength and stability of central body structures. The PostureJac, currently under patent application, is the first product. SomatoCentric Systems has the exclusive rights to manufacture and distribute the PostureJac under license agreement with Dr. Howard Makofsky. Information is available at http://www.posturejac.com

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