Chances are if you are reading this you know more about TMJ disorder than you want to. You still have your pain, clicking, crunching, difficulty opening your mouth, ringing in your ears, grinding, pressure in your head and locking in your jaw. You’ve tried everything available, you’ve emptied your bank account, you’re grumpy AND you still don’t have any solutions.
Bonnie Prudden, Myotherapy and Trigger Points
Over the years, Bonnie Prudden® was invited to speak to more dental groups, societies, and conventions than any other single health care provider. This was for two reasons:
- First, they knew of her success treating TMJD; and
- Second, they all had back pain from years of holding awkward positions for long periods of time, under considerable stress.
Those of us trained in Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy® [myo-therapy, trigger points] know that jaw pain doesn’t usually start in the jaw UNLESS you’ve been unfortunate enough to take a header off a rotating stool or gotten into a boxing match with a bully.
More often than not it starts in the pelvis.
Trigger points – which are responsible for most muscle pain, no matter the location – are collected in a number of ways: birth, occupation, accidents, sports and hobbies. Imagine taking a fall on the ice or down cement steps and the damage that causes to the muscles of your seat and surrounding tailbone… Imagine a blow to the pelvic floor from your bike bar as you take the curb… Imagine 24 hours of hard labor and the abuse to the pelvis in preparation to receive that 9-pound bouncing baby.
Most people heal – in time, but the scars are there in the form of trigger points.
Trigger points [pressure points, muscle pressure points] are irritable spots in the muscle that get put there when a muscle is over-used, mis-used or abused. Trigger points cause the muscle to go into spasm [muscle spasm, muscle cramps]. In addition to trigger points, two other things need to be in place to cause chronic muscle pain: a stressor (the dog ran away) plus a triggering mechanism (you bent down to tie your shoes).
The formula looks like this:
Old injury, plus stress, plus triggering mechanism
= muscle pain
The Pelvic Girdle and Jaw Pain Connection
Above the pelvic girdle are the abdominal muscles. The abdominals pull on the chest, which pulls on the neck, which pulls on the jaw. So tightness anywhere along that muscle pathway can contribute to jaw pain. (Many women who have TMJD also have menstrual cramps, and many guys who do a lot of sit-ups have jaw pain.)
In the back, the tailbone is connected to the back of the head by way of a series of muscles along each side of the spine. In addition, the trapezius – a big cape-like muscle covering the shoulders – attaches to the hairline and extends down to the last thoracic vertebrae.
During a Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy® session, adjacent and opposing muscle groups are always treated. Passive corrective exercises follow for each muscle group treated. This assures that the muscle will begin to learn a new habit:
By law, doctors with specialties are limited to treating the area of the body that’s their specialty. The cardiologist treats your heart, the podiatrist your lower legs and feet, and the dentist is not allowed to treat anything lower than your neck. So if your pelvis is the seat of your problem, your TMJD symptoms are not going away unless your pelvis, abdominals, chest, entire back and neck are treated.
If You Have TMJD
Don’t give up. Follow the guidelines set out in Bonnie’s books, Pain Erasure the Bonnie Prudden Way, and Myotherapy: Bonnie Prudden’s Complete Guide to Pain-Free Living.
Most of my TMJD patients come to me after many years of dental appointments and continuous pain. They have tried everything: heat, cold, splints, surgery, liquid diets, grinding teeth down, DCs, MTs, PTs, exercise and anything else that has been offered that might make the difference. In other words, I’m the last ditch effort, so to speak. I always wonder, “Is this the one I am not going to be able to help?” So far I’ve been able to help everyone – even those who have had multiple surgeries and 15 years of excruciating pain.
A Myotherapy treatment is kind of like taking the knots out of the rope so it no longer pulls on poles to which it is attached: in this case, your jaw. Very rarely do I even touch the face or head during the first treatment. Nevertheless, each patient’s jaw and head always feels different, better, loser, lighter and clearer afterwards.
There is no getting around it. Foot pain begins in your pelvis. Jaw pain begins in your pelvis. And the human body is a miracle of interconnections.
For more information about Bonnie Prudden®, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®, workshops, books, self-help tools, DVDs, educational videos, and blogs, visit www.bonnieprudden.com. Or call 520-529-3979 if you have questions or need help. Enid Whittaker, Managing Director, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®
Drawings by Bonnie Prudden.