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Reducing the Autogenic Inhibition Reflex: Making Weak Muscles Strong
The autogenic inhibition (AI) reflex is a sudden relaxation of a muscle in response to excess tension.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
We Get Letters & Email
A House Divided? (May 1 issue) provoked significant response from readers. Here are several of the surprisingly similar comments we received.
Integrating Art with Clinical Practice for Patients with PTSD: The Artemis Project
Are you restricted by those one-on-one clinic dynamics? Why not join colleagues and clients in experimental group settings? Three of us volunteered to do just that in Austin on behalf of women veteranss from all branches of the service.
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 1
This article was written in response to the unheeded acceptance of marijuana as a harmless substance that potentially does good when used for the medical relief of pain.
The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine
My Masters thesis was titled, "The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine," which highlighted several reasons why it is hard for these two worlds to mix.
Our Biggest Challenges to Compete in Wellness Care
In the first article in this four-article series [May 1 DC], I made the case that chiropractors should either embrace offering lifestyle wellness in their practices or face the possibility of losing their place in the wellness care marketplace.
First Do No Harm?
There's no questioning the frightening nature of breast cancer, which strikes one in eight women in the U.S. – eclipsed only by skin cancer in terms of prevalence.
A Poor Choice for Pain Relief
Acetaminophen is the most popular pain reliever in the U.S., accounting for an estimated 27 billion annual doses as of 2009. With 100,000-plus hospital visits a year by users, it's also the most likely to be taken inappropriately.
PCOM Granted Regional Accreditation
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) recently announce it has received regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This achievement reflects five years of hard work on the part of faculty, staff, and students.
The Acupuncturist's Problem
I want share with you some observations and insights into what seems to be the most common problem my colleagues in the acupuncture profession struggles with. If you also struggle with this problem, I hope you get a valuable "aha" moment from reading this.
Spieth Thanks His Chiropractor After Historic Masters Win
Jordan Spieth didn't just capture the hearts of golf enthusiasts worldwide with his record-setting, wire-to-wire victory at the 79th Masters Tournament.
The Tide is Rising in the Acupuncture Profession
Former President Ronald Regan said, "When the tide rises all boats float." The tide is rising for the acupuncture profession. Many forces outside the profession are helping the tides to rise.
Medicine is Clumsy, Don't You Be
All medical systems have clumsiness in them. If the technique isn't, the practitioner is. Everyone in every form of medicine is striving to improve. That is why we call it practice.
Giving Vets the Care They Deserve
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers the largest integrated health care system in the United States.
5 Tips for Using Pinterest to Market Your Practice
Pinterest is a very popular, but often under-utilized, social media platform where people can bookmark, or "pin," fun and interesting things from all across the internet.
Leg-Length Inequality and Pelvic Fixation: A New Approach to the Negative Derifield (Part 2)
As we noted in our previous article, with a positive Derifield (+D), the doctor observes the reactive (shorter) leg in the prone position that becomes longer or "crosses over" in the flexed position.
Green Tea Improves Cognitive Function in Elderly Subjects
Publishing their results in the journal Nutrients in May 2014, researchers showed that drinking the equivalent of 2-4 cups of brewed green tea (or bottled tea) daily improved cognitive function or reduced the progression of cognitive dysfunction in elderly subjects.
Animal Acupuncture: A Case Study in the Treatment of Traumatic Injury in the Equine
The rise of animal acupuncture in the U.S. began in the early 1970's as a result of the work by members of the National Acupuncture Association in Westwood, Calif.
ACA or ICA: Which Best Represents You?
Last June, I was honored to represent Texas ICA members as their representative assemblyman at the ICA Annual Meeting in Kansas City.
Rethinking Musculoskeletal Pain – A Public Health Perspective
The American Public Health Association (APHA) is the world's oldest and largest association of its kind, founded more than 140 years ago and boasting over 25,000 members.
How Much Do You Know About the Benefits of Birds Nest?
Edible bird's nest is the nest made by the Swiftlet bird of Southeast Asia that is usually prepared as a soup and prized in Chinese culture as a healthful delicacy.
August, 2002, Vol. 02, Issue 08
TMJ: Primary Problem, or Tip of the Iceberg?
By John Upledger, DO, OMM
The diagnosis of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome came into its own in the 1980s, and still remains popular today. A myriad of mechanical devices have been placed in people's mouths to alleviate the painful symptoms of TMJ dysfunction.The success rate of the singular use of such devices, however, leaves much to be desired. All too often, symptomatic relief is only partially achieved, and leaving treatment dependent upon the ongoing use of the intraoral devices. In other words, when the "splint" comes out, the symptoms return.
My own experience with TMJ dysfunction leads me to believe that the condition is often a secondary or tertiary manifestation of another problem somewhere in the body. Underlying problems that contribute to TMJ dysfunction and secondary symptoms are frequently found in the craniosacral, nervous, musculoskeletal, myofascial and masticatory systems.
TMJ syndrome may also be secondary to - or receiving significant contributions from - previous or current traumatic injuries anywhere in the body, and/or from stress. In addition, there may be systemic disease processes in the background, along with allergic and/or nutritional factors that can significantly contribute to the presenting TMJ syndrome.
I have assigned the majority of contributing factors of TMJ dysfunction and the resulting syndrome to the following major categories: craniosacral system dysfunction; stress; neurogenic problems and dysfunctions; posttraumatic problems and residua; structural/somatic problems and dysfunctions; degenerative problems and diseases; and dental problems. I'll discuss several of these categories, including suggestions for the efficacious use of different treatment modalities.
Craniosacral System Dysfunction: The craniosacral system is composed of the membranes and cerebrospinal fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord. It extends from the bones of the skull, face and mouth - which make up the cranium - down to the sacrum or tailbone area.
The bones of the skull most directly involved with the temporomandibular joints are the temporal bones and the mandible. In the case of TMJ dysfunction, the temporals are the most likely offenders directly related to craniosacral system dysfunctions.
The temporomandibular joints are located two-to-four centimeters anterior to each temporal bone's axis of rotation. Because of that articulating relationship, they are commonly involved in TMJ problems. Since the joint surfaces of the temporal bones are located in eccentric positions, when the temporal bone or bones are restricted into asymmetrical positions in relationship to one another, they provide malaligned joint surfaces for the temporomandibular joints on both sides. This malalignment results in mandibular imbalance and undue wear and stress upon the joints.
Temporal bone dysfunction can result from almost any problem within the craniosacral system, be it osseous or membranous. Only a thorough evaluation of the craniosacral system and the whole-body contributions to craniosacral system dysfunction will yield the primary cause of the problem. This can be accomplished through CranioSacral Therapy, a gentle method of releasing restrictions in the craniosacral system.
Remember, temporal bones can also be forced into abnormal positions when the muscles and ligaments that attach to them present with abnormal strains and tensions. CranioSacral Therapy aims at releasing temporal bones to restore normal function, regardless of the primary cause of the TMJ dysfunction.
The mandible, the other bone that contributes directly to the temporomandibular joints, is a single bone with one joint on each end. Therefore, you cannot distort one joint without causing a problem with the joint at the other end of the mandible. CranioSacral Therapy uses techniques to release and balance the joints at both ends of the mandible. It also releases undue muscle and ligament tensions upon this lower jawbone.
The hard palate is at the mercy of the sphenoid bone with which it articulates at both sides and, via the vomer, in the middle. Since the sphenoid is a major player in the craniosacral system, it is also important to evaluate the system's effect on the function of the hard palate. Distortions in sphenoid function or position often cause hard palate malalignment, which results in malocclusion of the teeth and secondary temporomandibular joint problems.
Within the domain of CranioSacral Therapy, we also have the balancing of all of the muscles of mastication. This means that bruxism, disc position and TMJ compression are all addressed effectively.
Stress: Stress can be caused by a number of factors. Physiological stress might be imposed by problems such as gallstones, kidney dysfunction or arteriosclerotic heart disease. Stress also can be induced by poor posture secondary to a shortened leg, for example. Psychoemotional stress, yet another category, is due to life frustrations, neuroses, or harbored destructive emotions like chronic anger. Environmental conditions - breathing polluted air or working in a noisy environment - produce stress as well.
No matter what the cause or type, stress exacts a toll from the body, as vital energy is required to cope with these conditions. While it's well-known that chronic stress may cause a range of health problems, stress has not been thoroughly considered as the root of TMJ problems (surprisingly). Teeth or jaw clenching is a natural response to increased stress, which compresses the temporomandibular joints and, in turn, causes the joint surfaces to be placed in jeopardy.
When excess stress is a factor in TMJ dysfunction, we must consider the use of stress management techniques. Among these modalities are therapeutic massage for relaxation and release, CranioSacral Therapy to reduce sympathetic nerve tone; SomatoEmotional Release to alleviate traumatic tissue memories and psychoemotional problems; hypnotherapy and/or biofeedback to develop conscious control of muscular hypertonus; and psychotherapy or counseling. Depending on the patient and the availability of therapeutic modalities, any or all of these techniques should be considered along with similar ones.
Dental Problems: I hesitate to discuss how dentists should treat TMJ syndrome. I only know that when direct orthodontic, occlusal and/or surgical interventions are put into play before the craniosacral system is functioning at its optimal level, the dental work must often be redone. Why? Because the involved structures change in response to the craniosacral work and other types of bodywork.
In CranioSacral Therapy, we specifically mobilize teeth in their sockets and encourage them to find their natural position in the mouth. When this happens, it changes the occlusion more toward what nature intended.
Dentists should not be excluded from being a part of the therapeutic team; however, they must recognize that occlusions, temporomandibular joint vitality, bruxism and compressive forces related to the masticatory system will most likely be changing as a result of the non-dental work. Therefore, the interventions imposed by dentists should be temporary and complementary to the holistic approach.
These examples show that TMJ syndrome may be the primary problem, or it may be just the tip of the iceberg. The condition is a part of the whole person, and the whole person must be evaluated to solve it.
Click here for previous articles by John Upledger, DO, OMM.
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