They can be measured from 0-10, measured by descriptions, barely noticeable to debilitating; be joint or structure-related, muscle, fascia or hormonal in origin.
We hope this article will be both entertaining and informative in understanding your body, promoting your health and physical wellbeing.
Pain is our body’s way of getting our attention. It’s a necessary sensation that helps us survive. At some time or another, we all have experienced some form of a headache and from our knowledge base attempted to stop it. Pain unchecked, may increase, and become chronic in nature. Debilitating pain costs our economy enormous sums of money paid out in compensation and lost productivity.
Let’s touch on head pain as it relates to two small usually overused and overlooked joints. Headaches of this type… Good luck if you take it to a strip mall spa!
The Temporomandibular Joints
These fragile joints are located on each side of the head just in front of the ear. They are used for things like eating, drinking, talking, laughing, yawning and sneezing too. Rarely do we consider them and what they do until we feel a deep, sudden, stabbing pain just in front of one or both ears. This pain can keep us from taking food, affect our ability to work and personal relationships too.
If not addressed, it can become chronic in nature. Chronic pain can cause hypertension, feelings of helplessness and despair, depression, mood swings, and loss of sleep to mention a few. Though small, these joints and respective tissues need to be taken care of.
Each temporomandibular joint is like a small hinge, covered with a joint capsule, stabilized internally with ligaments and containing shock-absorbing material. These joints are acted upon by external forces. For eating, these joints are moved by muscles that open, close, protract, retract and laterally move the jaw in relation to the skull.
To open the jaw, we have muscled primarily on the front, reaching down from the mandible to hyoid bone. At this point, we have muscles that reach up from specific points on the breast bone, collar bones, shoulder blades and thyroid cartilage that terminate on the hyoid bone. Collectively these muscles are needed for opening the jaw and for stabilizing the hyoid bone with swallowing.
Lastly, we have a large sheet of muscle that arises from the tissues about the collar bones and ends on the jaw. This muscle helps open the jaw too, and helps create the facial expression of sadness.
Equally important are the muscles that close the jaw. These muscles oppose those that open the mouth, but there must be a balance between the two groups. If there is muscular imbalance the stronger tissues will overpower the weaker. Subsequently, the overpowered tissues will become over-stretched, weakened, inhibited and develop myofascial trigger points and become hypersensitive.
The muscles that close, protract, retract and laterally move the mandible in reaction to the skull originate from the skull. These muscles work across the temporomandibular joint from a variety of angles. Balance is the key. Trauma to the head, mandible, neck and shoulders can impact these fragile hinge joints.
In the case of a real impact auto accident, you have an initial hyperextension of the neck and head. Then, like a loaded, compressed spring the neck with the head on top snaps like a whip into hyper-flexion. The muscles that move the neck and head are now affected as are the structures that limit joint integrity and movement. TMJ involvement is almost guaranteed at this time.
In the case of TMJ and this type of accident, we have to consider and treat the whole picture including the soft tissues responsible for mastication and deglutition. This skilled approach will include work inside of the mouth, the head and face, neck, shoulders, chest and upper back.
An auto accident will jostle the whole body and we need to focus on primary client complaints to maximize treatment times.
How Do You Protect the TMJs?
When driving, wear a boxer’s mouth guard and keep the mouth clenched tightly shut - NICE!
The body will naturally want to protect all traumatized tisues by laying down protective muscle shortening. This protective stabilization in itself is painful. Now we have excessive muscle tone in the muscles that move the TMJs. TMJs are now compressed and interjoint structures are set up for abnormal wear and tear. MORE PAIN!
Let’s address this excessive muscle tone and protective muscle shortening before it’s too late. Excessive muscle tone in one area will impact and refer pain to other areas of the body. Understanding body structure, muscles and what they do, myotomes and dermatomes knowledge is helpful too!
Each client deserves the best care, each case must be understood so specific techniques can be used to address hypertonic tissues, capsular and ligamentous involvement and scar tissue formation.
We want to complement the body’s healing process and keep pain and dysfunction from becoming chronic and possibly debilitating. Massage has its position in the health and wellness paradigm.
It cannot be stressed enough. If you are involved in an accident, experience a sudden onset of pain for no apparent reason, unexplained weakness, tingling, numbness, burning and throbbing pain/sensations, go to the ER and get examined. This is a good safety measure for all parties involved. From this point, a therapeutic baseline can be established.
Whatever your situation or injury, we are In-Home Therapeutic Massage are here to help you. Give us a call or schedule a visit, we love to hear from you!