Orofacial Myology Adelaide Blog
-Headaches and jaw pain can be debilitating. Why and how we feel pain is very complex but none-the-less, very real. Some people find this pain so debilitating that they end up in the specialists office having x-rays and scans done to assess wear and tear of the joint. Interestingly enough, bony changes are not always a reliable indicator of pain. People are often prescribed a dental splint to help with the pain and for some this works well and for others it doesn't work at all or it can make the pain worse. So many people continue to suffer in silence with little answers and a prescription for pain medication.
Dr Lorimer Moseley is a pain scientist from the University of South Australia and he has found that pain is not always a reflection of the direct condition of the body. He has some fascinating videos that talk about the neuroscience around pain.
When exploring jaw, head and face pain its important to assess the muscles. Take a moment to think about how often we use these muscles...……. Constantly! We eat, speak, swallow and breathe every minute. Whether asleep or awake these muscles are working in a specific way to allow us to live. When these muscles are not working well then the body will compensate to achieve its goal - life. Lets use breathing as an example. Its easy to think, well, if you're breathing it must be functional otherwise you would be dead, right? Well yes, this is true, but lets think about that. We are driven by the need to take that next breath. If we don’t, we die. We must do everything in our power to breathe and if we need to compensate we will. For example, if our nose is blocked, we open our mouth. With this shift in posture, our tongue drops to the floor of our mouth, our head moves forward, our shoulders become rounded and our hips and back compensate for the new forward head posture. Any physiotherapist or chiropractor will cringe at the damaging effects of forward head posture. This change in head and neck posture will continue to drive reoccurring pain including headaches.
The tongue is fascinating! We use it constantly, although some would say women use it more than men. I don’t know the research behind this. I do know that very few professionals are trained to assess its function and understand how this impacts on the rest of the body. For those sciency nerds out there, look up the deep frontline fascia. This body fascia shows that the tongue attaches through to the diaphragm, psoas major, pubic symphysis and into the knees and feet. Tongue function can impact on the entire body and this includes sleep.
So what does good oral posture look like?
If pain is consistently reoccurring and impacting on daily life then a more targeted approach is worth investing in. Specific pain patterns can be targeted and eliminated by restoring movement through exercises to address the dysfunction that is driving the pain. Think Yoga and Pilates for the face and jaw