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A Way Out of TMJ Problems

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Temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are the two joints for your lower jaw. If you have pain, clicking, clenching, restricted opening of the mouth, headaches, and ear aches, you know about TMJ dysfunction.

The problem

The jaw not only opens and closes, it moves sideways. In fact, 38% of neurological input to the brain comes from the face, mouth, and the TMJ region. The soft tissue of the head and mouth affects how it moves. If the jaw moves unevenly, its alignment with the teeth can cause your bite to wear unevenly. Over time, this can wear down the joint as well as your teeth.

In my clinic in Arizona, and in our Mindfulness Stress Reduction classes, we saw many clients for TMJ problems. The majority of these people had above average stress, and a reduced ability to effectively deal with their stress.  Ten million people suffer from TMJ and 90% are women in their childbearing years – raising kids is hard work.

The solution

Soon after I started my Rolfing practice in 1980, I began treating dentists, orthodontists and oral surgeons. These docs quickly saw the connection between TMJ problems and stress, tightening of soft tissue, and misalignment. Through their referrals and my studies, I began seeing quick success in helping TMJ patients.

Re-aligning the TMJ is not much different than re-aligning a runner’s knee. With a knee, the muscles and fascia above and below the knee twist the knee. When the soft tissue balance is restored the knee tracks straight. The same is true with the jaw.   When the surrounding soft tissue is released, the jaw and its joint will re-align. In most cases with a series of Rolfing sessions, if the stress and soft tissue is released and the entire structure is realigned, the pain and associated problems are able to heal. Usually, the joints haven’t been destroyed so they tend to fix themselves.

Rolfing doesn’t necessarily have to be the therapy used.  But TMJ sufferers need to release the tension, restore their alignment, and they must learn a better way to deal with stress. These are all keys to healing TMJ pain.

Owen Marcus, MA Certified Advance Rolfer,, 265.8440.

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