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December 21, 2004

Addressing TMJ Dysfunction

A client presents with TMJ dysfunction, having been treated by a doctor with drugs and physical therapy but with little abatement of symptoms. The client expresses dismay that using all of the conventional means for addressing their discomfort has left them at a loss for where to turn next. A peer referred this client to me. The client also reports having low back pain that, when manipulated, eases the jaw pain. I immediately think to use Craniosacral therapy because of the relationship in the system.

Upon palpation, the neck muscles are knotted and tender. There is much tension on the right side of the neck, shoulders, jaw muscles and surrounding fascia though the pain is experienced in the left jaw. I start with gentle massage at the base of the neck and shoulders to make sure the pain is not referred from there. I then attempt a cranial base release at the atlanto-occipital joint. I continue Craniosacral techniques using the mastoid ear pull, frontal lift and sphenoid compression/decompression. Using these techniques I discover a general tightness on the right and a specific localized tension at the left jaw (the probably source of the client's immediate pain).

Next I used trigger point therapy to soften the muscles directly around the jaw. Feeling the muscles again around the cranial base, I can feel tension in the suboccipital muscles when they swallow. Hyoid release is called for here, but I want to decompress the mandible in keeping with the direct techniques Iíve started on the jaw. The hyoid bone is restricted on the left side, counter the the tension pattern present in the rest of the system.

I finish up the session with gentle manipulation of the neck muscles for comfort. This also gives me information about how well the body responded to the treatment. To address the low back pain, I engage the spinal cord using the dural tube rock and dural tube glide techniques. The client leaves the session reporting that they feel better in general, that their neck is much looser, and that the jaw pain has subsided substantially. They book another appointment.

Posted by linda at December 21, 2004 9:32 PM

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