TMJ Solution - Is Your Posture to Blame

Published: 10th August 2009
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TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. Disorders of this joint are often referred to simply as TMJ. It is a simple acronym for a complex, hard to treat health problem. If you have a TMJ disorder you know just how agonizing it can be.

The TMJ joint is a ball and socket joint on each side of a person's head. It is estimated that up to 15 percent of the people in the U.S. experience pain with a TMJ disorder at some point in their lives. Most TMJ sufferers are women.

TMJ occurs when the temporomandibular joint is under stress. Well known triggers include factors such as dental work, a blow to the jaw, osteoarthritis and whiplash from car accidents. However, poor body alignment may be an often overlooked factor in muscular stress. In my own experience with TMJ, my jaw pain was caused in part by uneven, and rounded shoulders. My shoulder on the right side of my body was lower than the shoulder on the left side which caused a constant downward pull on my right jaw and ear, resulting in neck, jaw and ear pain, tinnitus and eventually even vertigo. My shoulders were also both rounded inward from tight pectoral muscles, causing a forward pull on both sides of my neck.

Physical therapy and yoga helped to raise my right shoulder even with my left side and pull back my rounded shoulders. With my improved muscle alignment, all of the problems with my ears, neck and jaw slowly but surely improved in unison. Now, whenever I lapse with my yoga and home physical therapy routines and spend too much time on the computer, my symptoms start to reappear. They disappear when I return to my therapy routines.

To see if poor posture and tight, unbalanced muscles could be a factor in your TMJ, take a look in the mirror. Standing up straight and facing a full length mirror, take a look at your shoulders from the front. Are they even? In my case the right shoulder was visually lower than the left. Next, with your hands feel the muscles on each side of your neck. Do they feel the same? When I had TMJ, the muscles on my right side were distinctly weaker and more stretched out than the muscles on my left side, which were knotted and overly taut. How about the muscles in your neck? Is your head even on your shoulders from side to side, or are imbalanced muscles keeping it tilted to one side?

Next, put your hands back at your sides and look at them in the mirror. In a person with balanced muscles, the hands should hang straight at his or her side, thumbs facing forward. If your shoulders are pulled forward and unnaturally rounded, then when you look in the mirror you will often see your palms flat against your thighs and the back of your hands facing forward. This may mean that your shoulders have rounded and are rotated inward. This forward shoulder movement can also cause muscle tension in your jaw, as it often means your chest muscles are tight and pulling your shoulders inward, while your back muscles are weak and stretched out, causing a constant forward pull on your jaw from the tighter muscles on the front of your body. .

Now turn to the side and check your posture. Do your arms hang freely at your sides, with the back of the hand flat against your thigh? Is your head evenly at the top of your spine, neither tilted forward nor backward? Is your shoulder directly below your ear? Many people with TMJ suffer from a chronic forward head position and forward shoulders.

If you suffer from any of the above posture problems, don't despair. The good news is that you now may have a valuable clue that poor posture and muscle imbalances may be a contributing factor to your jaw pain and related problems of the upper body. Poor posture caused by muscle imbalances is an often correctable condition with traditional physical therapy or with alternative health therapies such as yoga, posture training, the Alexander technique, rolfing and massage.

Please note that any information in this article should be considered as general information only and should not be used to diagnose or treat TMJ, jaw pain, neck pain or any other health condition. See your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment of any medical concerns you may have, and before implementing any diet, exercise, supplement or other lifestyle changes. Download your TMJ ebook @ href=""> now.

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