Sorry for being so bold, so confident, so assured, but so what! SO WHAT I say, the WORLD needs to know!
Chronic pain, headaches, neck pain, low back pain, sciatica pain, hip pain, and especially jaw pain are already some the most puzzling things within the traditional medicine landscape. But TMJ or TMJD, forget about it.
Let’s clarify exactly what these two acronyms actually stand for, because even that is at the center of many debates. TMJ stands for Temporomandibular Joint and TMJD stand for Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction. In a nutshell, it’s your jaw joint. We ALL have one, but when your jaw joint hurts or pops and clicks, you have TMJD. So we ALL have a jaw joint or TMJ, but not everyone has TMJD, or do we?
I actually believe that every human being has TMJD, it’s just that not everyone is symptomatic…yet!
You see your mandible (jaw joint) actually mirrors the nearly exact position of your pelvis. That may sound weird, but it’s so true and it’s just basic physics. Chances are you’ve never heard that from your dentist, physical therapist, chiropractor or pain doctor. You see we have a little talked about balance reflex in our inner ear called the “righting reflex”. It’s main job is to keep us in equilibrium, or simply keep us balanced and from becoming dizzy.
I’ll leave out all the super high tech details about how it works and simply say that it’s main job is to try and keep your eyeballs level with the horizon. When you tilt your head to the side you can become a little disoriented. This reflex immediately kicks in so that we can remain balanced and stable. The reflex uses specific muscle contraction within the front, back, and sides of the neck and upper torso to alter the position of the head (or eyeballs) to keep us balanced and keep us from dizziness, make sense?
So what does all this mean to TMJD? It means that symptoms ranging from chronic headaches and migraines, to neck pain, shoulder pain, ear aches, tinnitus (ringing in your ears), facial pain, trigeminal nerve pain, jaw clicking and pain, low back pain (yes it’s true), and even hip and leg pain, can ALL be linked to TMJD in one way or another.
It’s simple if you think about it this way. The center of balance for the human body is right the center of the pubic bone, smack dab in the middle of your hips. It’s the bone you feel right in the middle of your pubic hair. So since this point sits between your hip bones, if your hips are off, everything from head to toe is off. When is the last time you went to a chiropractor and he said one leg was shorter than the other? Pretty much every time right? The actual problem is NOT a short leg, it’s a simple hip imbalance. They will crack your entire spine from head to toe and then recheck your feet…ALL GOOD! Did they just fix a short leg? No, they realigned your body which balanced your hips, and chances are you will feel better. The missing link to WHY your hips were off is unfortunately what keeps people stuck in chronic pain. Your hips are off because of a simple muscle imbalance, that’s it. It’s not rocket science, it’s not complicated, it’s not hard to figure out if you know what you’re looking for. The overwhelming problem in the field of chronic pain, low back pain relief, headache and migraine relief, neck pain relief, and even some shoulder pain, low back pain and even sciatica relief, is that muscles are rarely ever looked at as THE CAUSE of it all, and yet, in each and every pain known to effect the human body muscles are involved, deeply involved!
The muscles of mastication, or chewing, biting and grinding muscles are considered the overwhelming strong guys of the muscle kingdom. Pound for pound these muscles mean business and can crush things our hands can only dream of. What’s weird is that these guys are super tiny in comparison to every other muscle in the body. Because of their small stature and the amount of work they are required to do they can become very irritated and imbalanced almost immediately. For example. it can take years of imbalance in the big muscles of the lower body to elicit any symptoms of low back pain or sciatic pain, but bite down on a peanut wrong and look out. These little guys get angry very fast and can tend to stay that way. What this means is that due to the massive usage of these muscles it doesn’t take years of imbalance to produce symptoms, it can happen in an instant.
When the jaw becomes symptomatic and painful we tend to run to the dentist for help. There are only a few dentists who specialize in TMJD and for those who do treatments can involve expensive mouth guards, electric stimulation, or in severe cases, a full mouth reconstruction. These treatments can be very expensive and although some people can get great relief, most (60% or more) don’t seem to get much help. This is why most dentists don’t really like to treat TMJD because success rates are quite low and solutions can be expensive. But is it the dentists fault? No way, they’re dentists, not muscle experts! Remember, TMJD is nothing more than a simple muscle imbalance. Sure, if your jaw pain is the result of a tooth malformation, abscess, or need for a root canal, the dentist will be your hero. But, most long term chronic jaw pain, chronic headaches, migraines as well as neck pain, is not in the dentists wheel house of treatment options.
So when you begin your quest for jaw pain relief, chronic headache/migraine relief, or neck pain relief just ask yourself a few questions. Does my pain fluctuate, or come and go? Do my headaches/migraines start in my neck? Have I ever had a whiplash or fall? Is my pain worse with physical activity? These are just a few simple clues as to whether or not you can tell if you have a simple muscle imbalance. If you answered yes to any of them…you have a simple muscle imbalance!