One of the hardest working joints in the body, the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the hinge between your jaw and skull, and is critical for speaking, chewing, yawning and making facial expressions.
Unfortunately, many of us suffer from temporomandibular disorders (TMD) which can cause pain and make it difficult for us to open and close our mouths. People can develop TMJ problems for many different reasons, including jaw injuries (from a direct blow or a car accident), arthritis, teeth grinding at night, and stress. Problems with the joint can come on very quickly or develop over time, as well.
Image Source: Nate Edwards
If you’ve been diagnosed with TMD, you’re probably aware of the many treatment options available to you, such as physiotherapy, massage, and a type of mouthguard called a splint. However, you may not be aware that craniosacral therapy (CST) can offer both pain relief and improved range of motion for people suffering from TMD.
How Craniosacral Therapy Helps TMJ
CST is a hands-on technique that focuses on your head (cranium), spine, and sacrum (a triangular bone at the base of the spine). Using light pressure, a therapist releases tension in the connective tissue and encourages the flow of fluid between the cranium, spine, and sacrum. CST is practiced by a variety of health-care professionals, including massage therapists, physiotherapists, and dental professionals.
This gentle technique is ideal for treating TMD as it allows therapists to access the hard-to-access muscles surrounding the jaw and TMJ, and offers a safe and effective way for a therapist to manually move the joint in order to improve flexibility and range of motion. CST can also reduce stress, which may contribute to TMJ difficulties.
Who Can Get CST?
Anyone with TMJ pain can benefit from this therapy, including those who’ve recently suffered jaw trauma. That’s because CST is a non-invasive treatment (it’s even safe for newborn babies and the elderly).
However, CST is not recommended for people who have recently had surgery or a spinal tap, or are recovering from stroke, infection, or bone fracture.
What Should I Expect?
At your first session, a trained craniosacral therapist will ask you to lie on the massage table fully clothed and on your back. Using light pressure and gentle movements, the therapist will manipulate the joint and related tissue.
It’s unusual to feel pain during the treatment, but it’s not uncommon to experience some soreness or stiffness after treatment (similar to after a massage). Because jaw tension is strongly linked to our emotions, clients may also experience strong emotions during or after treatment (but this is rare).
You can learn more about what to expect at your first treatment by reading our previous blog post here.
Contact Summit Physiotherapy to find out more about craniosacral therapy and other treatments for TMD. New clients are always welcome and a doctor’s referral isn’t needed.