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A Different Approach to Head and Neck Problems

If you suffer from jaw pain, neck pain, headaches, vertigo, tension, dizziness, tinnitus, or any other symptoms in or around your head, then hello! You've come to the right place.

Let's first discuss a little anatomy and mechanics of the head. There are a lot of bones in the skull, but today we're going to focus on three: temporal bones, sphenoid, and the mandible (jaw).

We'll start with the temporal bones (in brown on the top picture and blue on the bottom). They are attached to both the sphenoid (in yellow on the bottom picture) and the mandible (the reddish color in the bottom picture). Think of temporal bones like reins on a horse: they bend and twist both to the right and the left depending on how your body is moving. Think of the sphenoid like the bit: it's going to bend and twist in response to what the reins are doing. If one temporal bone flares outward, the other side will typically flare inward. This is just one example of how these two bones can move on one another. Sometimes the sphenoid will influence the temporal bones, and sometimes it's the other way around.

The mandible (jaw) moves and positions itself based on how the temporal bones are sitting. If one side is more rotated than the other, then the jaw will slide more to one side, creating increased compression or decompression on one side.

Now take a look in the mirror. Does your face look symmetrical? Are your eyes even? Can you see one ear more than the other? Is your chin in the center or does it look like it has shifted more to one side? Look at the space between the corner of your mouth and the corner of your eye on each side - are they closer together on one side?

Human asymmetry is 100% normal. However, when you start to develop negative symptoms, as mentioned above, they are most likely being caused by cranial strain. Your system has become STUCK on one side or both sides. When we become too dominant on one side, the relationship between our temporal bones, sphenoid, and jaw can create compression in certain places. This compression prevents jaw movement, reduces sinus flow, reduces cerebral spinal flow, compresses the eardrum, compresses optic nerves, and the list goes on and on...

What causes this? Repetitive, one-sided activity can create a pattern of dominance on one side. Think of a professional baseball pitcher, a dentist, a desk sitter, a painter, or anyone who loves to live their life on their right side. Whiplash, concussion, major dental work, trauma (physical or emotional), major vision issues, and sleep disorders can also create cranial strain.

If you think this might be you and your pain, maybe your next question is, "Can anything be done about it?!" The answer is YES...but there is not a simple fix and there are a lot of variables that have to be considered. We must first figure out if this is truly all head (cranial) driven. Pelvis dysfunction and/or a stiff ribcage can wreak havoc on our mechanics and can be a major contributor to head and neck issues. We also must consider your teeth, dental history, crossbites, and other issues. Phew! Good thing we at JEMC know what we're doing!

Postural Restoration treatment (PRI) for these types of issues includes breathing exercises in specific positions to reposition your temporal and sphenoid bones. Depending on what you need, we may perform manual techniques to improve your ribcage mobility, introduce pelvic activities, or give you cervical techniques to reduce neck tension. In certain cases, we will refer you to a dentist to assess you for an occlusal bite guard to help release your jaw so that your temporal bones can move. In those cases, we are very specific in what type of guard you need and how it is to be used. This is not your "typical" bite guard, and not something just any dentist can do for you.

If you are thinking this is your problem, Postural Restoration (PRI) might be the treatment you are missing for your issue! We are trained to look at all the variables and help figure out the actual cause of your problem. Book an appointment with Gina or Courtney so we can help!

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