Imbalance in the jaw or more specifically the temporomandibular joint or TMJ (for short!) can cause a host of health issues and unpleasant symptoms. In this article, I talk about how this joint can become unbalanced and the problems that may arise as a result of the imbalance. I also highlight how I have used this procedure in practice with several clients struggling with different problems.
Location of the TMJ
The temporomandibular joint or TMJ is the joint of the jaw and is a bilateral synovial articulation between the mandible and temporal bone. The name of the joint is derived from the two bones which form the joint: the upper temporal bone which is part of the cranium/skull, and the lower jawbone or mandible. The TMJ essentially connects the jaw to the skull.
Causes of TMJ imbalance
Imbalance in the TMJ may be experienced after receiving dentistry especially after significant dentistry work where individuals have been in the dentist’s chair with their mouth open for an extended period. Some people hold stress and tension in their jaw area which can make the TMJ ache and feel uncomfortable. Injuries to the neck or jaw can also cause problems with the TMJ that often respond well to treatment. I also work with the procedure to correct an imbalance in other areas of the spine that are being compensated for in the TMJ. It is interesting that anatomically the TMJ almost mirrors the pelvis when viewed in a certain way. I will often work with the TMJ procedure when a client is not responding significantly to direct work on the pelvis or lower back as this may bring relief.
Some common problems that may be caused by TMJ imbalance
When the TMJ is out of balance an individual may experience all sorts of problems, some of these could include;
• Allergies / Hay fever
• Asthma symptoms
• Upper respiratory tract problems
• Congestion in upper respiratory
• Sinus problems
• Swollen glands
• Sore throats
• Neck problems
• Eye sight problems
• Ear problems including tinnitus
• Teeth grinding
• Teeth crowding
• Clicking jaw
• Hormonal imbalance
• TMJ syndrome
• Issues with facial symmetry
The TMJ procedure
The Bowen Technique offers two procedures that work directly with the TMJ and that can be used to address some of the problems listed above. The advanced TMJ can be used to address more long-standing or stubborn TMJ problems.
Light moves are made under the mouth and around the neck area, the sternocleidomastoid muscle (SCM) which sits at either side of the neck is gently massaged which helps to drain the lymph in this area. The SCM muscle is like a big tube that sits at either side of the neck and can often become congested and painful. Directly working with this muscle alone can often relieve neck pain and sinus type problems. After the SCM has been worked several moves around the neck and throat area are applied. The next part of the procedure has the client placing a finger between their teeth, which opens the joint so we can make a light move over it in order to affect the fascia beneath. Gentle moves are then made behind and around the ear.
The advanced TMJ procedure also applies a light move over the face near the cheek bone which effects the masseter muscle which influences the bite and jaw movement.
Some examples in practice
Client presenting with severe neck pain and constriction, movement incredibly limited. Client taking strong pain relief. In the first session, I performed the Bowen neck moves along with TMJ. Later that day client reported a marked improvement in movement and that the pain was dramatically reduced. I performed the TMJ again a week later and the rotation of the neck was almost back to normal. Very little pain and no need since the first session for pain relief. Several months later and the client was still pain-free with maximum rotation of the neck. What the sessions did uncover was an old trauma locked into the tissues of the neck. The Bowen work helped release this old trauma from the tissues and the fascia. Often when old trauma is released in this way the results of the Bowen work will remain indefinitely.
Client presenting with severe hay fever which had started around a week prior to first treatment. Symptoms included; nasal congestion, profuse sneezing, eye irritation, pain in the face, breathing difficulties. On the first session, I worked to drain the client’s sinus area on the face along with the SCM drain. There was a marked improvement when I saw her a week later. On the second session, we performed the full TMJ including the SCM drain again and the work on the sinus area on the face. On the third session, the client reported a significant reduction in all her symptoms along with a general feeling of wellness.
The client presented with blocked sinuses which were being treated currently with a steroid nasal spray taken 3 times per day with limited effect. I the first session we performed preliminary work balancing the neck, draining the SCM and the sinus work on the face. When the client returned for the second session she commented on how she could breathe easier and that the sinus areas on her face felt less swollen. On the second session, we performed the full TMJ including the SCM drain and work on the sinuses. When the client returned for her third session she reported a significant improvement. The client returned for a “top-up” a month later and told me she had been able to stop taking her steroid spray with the blessing of her GP and that her symptoms were completely gone.