Cranial Osteopathy for TMJ

Cranial Osteopathy for TMJ

Jaw Pain or TMJ pain and/ or headaches can be debilitating. In our experience Cranial Osteopathy could help reduce your tensions.

We have written the below article to give you further information about your TMJ and jaw pain. It can be debilitating and not only affect your jaw but refer to other areas. Identifying the cause of your TMJ issue is paramount for a successful treatment plan.

What is the TMJ?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) are the joints inside your mouth that connect your jawbone to your skull. You have two joints located either side of your head. Both joints work together, along with ligaments, muscles, nerves, discs and bones which allow you to speak and chew food. The TMJ is a hinge joint which allows for the opening and closing action of the mouth. Between this hinge joint is a shock absorbing disc which allows for a smooth jaw movement.

What is TMD?

Is a collective term that includes disorders of the TMJ, of the masticatory muscles and their associated structures in absence of a visceral pathology (for example ear disorder, pharyngeal tumour or dental abscess). It is characterised by pain, joint sounds and restricted mandibular movements. Moreover pains can refer around your mouth, face, head or neck. This is known as temporomandibular disorder (TMD).

What are the symptoms of TMD?

The most common TMD symptoms are jaw pain, clicking and popping sounds when moving your jaw. Locking out of your jaw, pain or difficulty chewing and yawning. You can also experience headaches, migraines, inability to open mouth fully, difficulties swallowing and ear pain. Furthermore referred pain to your face, neck and shoulder/s pain.

What causes TMD?

There are multiple possible causes for your TMD so it is really important to diagnose correctly to give you the best chance of a long term relief of your symptoms. We have divided our causes into three categories.

1 - Derangement of the condyle-disc complex

Derangement of the condyle disc complex can occur due to breakdown of the rotational function of the disc resulting in lengthening of the ligaments following trauma. Disc displacements can occur due to the change of function of the lateral pterygoid muscle. This can lead to clicking when opening or closing your mouth. Disc displacements can also lead to disc dislocations.

2 - Structural incompatibility with articular surfaces

Changes in the smooth sliding surfaces of the TMJ can cause alterations resulting in friction and affects joint function. The structural incompatibility classifies as a deviation in form, adhesions, subluxation, and spontaneous dislocation (Mani & Dua 2021). Past history of dental work or orthodontics. Nutrition deficiencies such as vitamin D or magnesium deficiency or low consumption of calcium. Past history of head trauma like suffering from a broken nose as a child could be a contributing factor.

3 - Inflammatory disorders of the TMJ

Inflammatory conditions within the joint after often caused by direct trauma such as jaw or head injuries whether it is a fall or sports injury or road traffic accident with whiplash.

Excessive psychological stress or anxiety which has been linked with teeth grinding (bruxism) or clenching.

Synovitis - Inflammation of the TMJ synovial or the joint capsule.

Retrodiscitis - InSwelling of retro discal tissues, and acute malocclusion are associated with the disease.

Osteoarthritis - inflammation due to increased overload of the joint. Overtime the forces will soften the articular surfaces, loss of subchondral largest thanks yer and bone erosion.

Systemic arthritis - traumatic arthritis, infectious arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can affect your TMJ.

Can a Cranial Osteopath Treat TMJ/ TMD?

Yes, our Cranial Osteopath London are trained in diagnosing and treating your TMD to help reduce your symptoms. Osteopathic treatment aims to reduce pain and restore function. Osteopaths are well known to treat the whole person and posture. In our experience treating not only your jaw, but also neck, head, shoulders and overall posture will achieve the best results. Treatment will involve muscular stretching, joint articulations, joint manipulations (if appropriate). You will also be advised on stretching and strengthening rehab exercises. Maybe nutrition and/ or lifestyle top tips to help optimise your recovery.

How does TMD Affect Entire Body?

As mentioned previously TMD can refer to your mouth, face, neck, shoulders and upper back. This will have a dramatic effect onto the rest of your posture and fascial planes. See the postural diagram below which shows a forward head posture which puts increased strain through your neck muscles which will cause increased mechanical loading through your jaw. This is why treating your whole posture and encouraging Pilates rehab exercises achieve great results.

Can an Osteopath help with Jaw Pain?

As a condition with many contributing factors we find the best results are achieved from an integrative approach. We combine hands on Osteopathy, Cranial Osteopathy, Nutrition and Pilates. We would have a course of treatment and then revaluate. If symptoms are still being experienced (albeit reduced) it might be worth considering speaking to a talking therapist or seeing a dentist as well (if you haven’t tried already). By having a well rounded approach and provides you with the best management plan.

Can Osteopathy help Bruxism?

Yes but it depends on the cause of your bruxism. If stress and anxiety are the contributing factor then cranial osteopathy in our experience can really help reduce your symptoms. Cranial Osteopathy can be deeply relaxing which is great circuit breaker to turn down your fight or flight response (sympathetic nervous system) to help reduce tensions. If there are joint or postural restrictions which are contributing towards your TMD then hands on treatment can be of great use. In a recent study Cranial Osteopathy and Osteopathy was found to be effective treatment in patients with TMD (Gesslbauer et al 2018).

What do TMJ headaches feel like?

Typically TMJ headaches feel tight and dull aching. Most commonly you experience the headaches on one side, but it can also be both. The headache can be aggravated by jaw movement and relieved with relaxation.

What causes TMJ to flare up?

Stressful lifestyle episodes can cause teeth grinding and contribute towards TMJ flare ups.

Cranial Osteopathy for TMJ

What is the Best Way to get Rid of TMJ?

At Wellthy Clinic we believe a combined approach of hands on Osteopathy, Cranial Osteopathy, Pilates postural exercises and Nutrition advice to lower inflammation levels is effective. Dentist or talking therapist referrals can also be helpful depending on the severity of the symptoms and your response following treatment sessions.