What is the TMJ? Well, technically it is the ‘temporomandibular joint’ but most of us lovingly call it the jaw. “Why are we discussing the jaw?” you ask. Well strangely enough, today we delve into the connection between the jaw and the pelvis. Strange I know, but the more I work with vaginas and the pelvic floor, the more I find that the jaw is involved in issues such as pelvic floor dysfunction or coccyx, pelvic or back pain. Want to know more?… Read on!
Some Interesting Facts:
- Research by dentists and physical therapists has shown that restrictions in the way the jaw moves play an important role in hip restriction.
- In the early development of the embryo (day 15) two depressions form on the embryo. One continues to grow and develop into the mouth the other forms the openings of the urinary, reproductive and gastrointestinal tracts.
- The wisdom of midwives and doulas is also key in this area. It is very common during labour to hear them reminding birthing mamas to relax their jaw and throat. Ina May Gaskin, a birthing expert, has termed this phenomenon “sphincter law” – meaning when you relax the jaw and throat, the butt, pelvis and vagina also relaxes.
- I think most of us have at some time experienced stress and strong emotions which have resulted in the involuntary tightening of our muscular system. The muscles of our jaw, butt and vagina seem to be affected more by stress than other muscles in the body.
- Then comes the fascia, a connective tissue band or sheath that surrounds our muscles, organs, bones, nerves and blood vessels to provide support. The deep fascial front line starts in the feet, heads up to the base of the pelvis, pelvic floor and hips. From here it heads up to our jaw via a number of other areas in the body. The fascial sheath is continuous and directly links the pelvic region to the jaw.
So what does all of this actually mean? What it means is this… when you visit one of our osteopaths for your pelvic concerns, such as; bladder leakage, rushing to the toilet, pain with intercourse or pelvic, hip or lower back pain, and constipation; among the range of questions that you will be asked will be some about your jaw and any pain. Do you grind your teeth? Clench your jaw? Or hold tension in the jaw? If you wake in the mornings feeling all tight in your jaw because of contracting it all night, it’s highly likely that you’ve been contracting your vagina all night too. If this is the case your jaw will be assessed and treated as a part of treatment for bladder leakage. The same would apply if you presented with jaw pain. We would ask about your pelvis and any symptoms associated with your pelvic floor region. Get it? Got it? Good!
When seeing one of our osteopaths for any complaint when the jaw is involved, assessment and treatment of the jaw can include a variety of techniques including; internal release, gentle stretching and gentle indirect techniques such as craniosacral therapy.
Should you have any further questions about the TMJ aka jaw and or the pelvic floor please don’t hesitate to give the clinic a call on 9699 4004.
Dr Kathryn Johns (osteopath) xx