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A Nod to Your TMJ Pain

Didja’ know?

I was just chatting with a client a couple days ago about the issues she and her whole family is having with the Zoom world of work so many of us are dealing with. Nothing to do with what she was in the office for, but she offhandedly mentioned that she had started clenching during the day while she was concentrating. She followed with “Can tension in your jaw muscles cause headaches? I thought it might be eye fatigue, but now… I don’t know?” And I forget, sometimes, that people don’t know that in addition to all the awesome work we do on the lower 90% of the body, we are specialists in dealing with TMJ issues.


What the heck is TMJ?


The TMJ is a short acronym for your temporomandibular joint (“jaw joint”) and symptoms of TMJ problems can range from: pain or fatigue with moving your jaw, popping / clicking / locking in the jaw, headaches, dizziness, eye fatigue, tooth pain, tinnitus (ringing in your ear) and can even contribute to balance issues! I know, it seems like a lot, but having worked with these issues for a long time, there are people that attribute everything from brain tumors to chronic dental issues to what are really problems based around the TMJ and the surrounding muscles.


My sister-in-law sent me a huge thank you after I worked on my brother’s jaw a couple years back. It popped so loudly when he ate chewy foods she didn’t even want to sit at the same table. Seriously, it was light someone was banging coconuts together every time he would chew, I heard it.


I mentioned that I dealt with people with similar problems, and she said, “ you mean you could DO something about it? OMG that would be better than a Christmas present.” And while my brother eyed me doubtfully – there’s a part of me that’s still the younger brother who would make him turn off MTV so I could watch GI Joe cartoons and sneak his hard-earned candy when mine would run out – he consented to me taking a look.

Quick assessment in the kitchen, a few quick manual techniques to his neck and jaw, and the noise reduced by 75%. You had to be close or he had to yawn to really get a loud noise. I’m pretty sure I saved their marriage, as he is a chef and they love to eat. I actually just checked in, and his quote was “it was a lot better after you worked on it, and no one mentions it so it’s probably good.” His wife’s response was “Yup, still does it. He never did any of the stuff you told him to do”. Family, right?


Another client recently is literally chewing through her bite plate from her dentist and getting small abfractions (cracks in her teeth from clenching/ grinding), and was curious if that might be contributing to her complaints with her hip and low back tension. And the answer is – it could be. Our postural muscles – of breathing, chewing, digestion, pelvic functioning – all work together a lot, and they span our entire trunk. Some people hold tension the bleeds up and down their bodies, and improving that with hands-on work or exercises can make a real difference in people’s ability to live their best lives. Who can feel at their best when they can’t even relax while they’re sleeping?


Exercises to Help Relieve TMJ


SO: Grinding? Clenching? Low grade-headaches that you just can’t kick? Got a bit plate from your dentist that just never worked, or made your symptoms WORSE? Ever stare at some of your favorite foods and think “not today – it’s not worth the pain”? Give us a call and check out these two great exercises below!


Chin Tuck Exercise


Tip of the Tongue Mouth Opening Exercise


AntiFragile Physical Therapy

959 Merrimon Ave, Suite 103

Asheville, NC 28804

Phone: 828-242-0343

Fax: 828-237-4866

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©2017 by Antifragile Physical Therapy.