It’s not just backs that can have a slipped disc

Often when taking a case history with a patient suffering headache or neck pain I find they have a clicky jaw. It’s not just backs that can have a slipped disc. The jaw joint is called the temporamandibular joint and is made up of an articular disc. When you hear a click when chewing it is the disc displacing. This can interfere with the smooth gliding of the jaw bone the mandible on the temporal bone of the skull. The disc is often displaced due to the straining of the masseter (chewing) muscle and the lengthening o the lateral ligaments. The pain that comes from a slipped disc in the jaw or associated muscle spasms can range from annoying to debilitating. I have been very interested in treating this area for some time now and have built up this specialist service. A clicky jaw in itself may not cause you a problem but it may be having a knock on effect somewhere else.

Osteopaths now realise that the way the jaw and teeth operate affect the balancing of the whole body structure. You may remember the old adage ‘ the hip bones connected to the knee bone’ but did you realise how intricately and fundamentally the jaw bone is connected to the hip bone?Teeth meet together 2000 times a day and so an uneven bite transmits itself down the skeleton to accommodate the uneven bite the head tilts slightly, the eyes levelling with the horizon, so the neck kinks. The lower spine compensates to prevent you falling over by creating a sideways S curve. This in turn causes the pelvis to tilt. This can cause pain in the back, knees, feet, uneven gait and wear and tear on the joint.

An uneven bite can be caused by birth trauma, stress, teeth grinding and clenching as well as muscle and joint conditions. With teeth grinding and clenching excessive forces occur on the ligaments, the disc and the jaw joint. At the very least muscle bruising can result but over a period of time one can experience debilitating headaches, difficulty chewing, neck and facial pain all of which affect a person’s quality of life.

It has been said that pain in other parts of the body such as back pain can often be tolerated until symptoms become severe enough to seek treatment but pain in the face and jaw causes significant distress and worry and has an effect on employment, sleep, relationships and daily life.

Chronic orofacial pain presents challenging diagnostic problems and often benefit from the multidisciplinary holistic approach offered by an osteopath and a correct diagnosis requires time, understanding and listening to a patient’s chief complaints and a thorough pain history, We use gentle soft tissue techniques on the muscles around the neck and the jaw muscles and look at rebalancing the tensions in the face . We also can use manipulative techniques to those cervical and thoracic vertebra which are affecting the slippage of the articular disc. Patients find much relief from these targeted techniques and our expertise.