It may sound strange at first, imagining the structures of the jaw and those of the pelvic floor to be affecting each other, but it’s true.
To understand the correlation, let’s first identify the structures and conditions of the two areas.
- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders are conditions that affect the jaw and surrounding ligaments and muscles. The jaw is a common place for people to store tension. Symptoms of TMJ can include pain when chewing or speaking, pain in the face or around the ears, headache, and locking of the jaw, to name a few. Some people who suffer with TMJ disorders may be aware of behaviors like grinding their teeth at night, or clenching their jaw.
- The pelvic floor is a hammock-like structure, made of muscle, at the base of the pelvis which supports the bowel and bladder, and gives support to the body’s core. Pelvic floor dysfunction can result in pain, weakness, digestive troubles, sexual dysfunction, and a range of other symptoms.
Stress affects the entire body
For some people, clenching the jaw is a stress reaction. Tension in the jaw can cause the muscles surrounding the joint to contract. This, in turn, causes the joint itself to shift out of place. The clicking or locking sensation many TMJ sufferers note, as well as the tightness and pain can be easily explained by this tendency.
For those who hold tension in this way, it isn’t surprising that this stress affects other parts of the body as well. The shoulders, back, and pelvic floor will often be tensed as a stress reaction, leading to similar dysfunction. Aches and pains may be noted as mild symptoms, but as stress on the body increases, so will the severity of the symptoms.
A connection between hip and jaw
Fascia is a connective tissue that covers the entire body beneath the skin. When fascia is constricted, it can affect circulation and movement. This can cause varying levels of discomfort depending on location and severity.
A fascial line runs from the muscles of the jaw to the muscles of the hip, affecting the pelvic floor. Ultrasounds of the pelvic floor area have shown vocalizations in the low range causing the pelvic floor to relax, while high pitched sounds cause the pelvic floor to contract. This is the reason that individuals giving birth are often told to focus on low, deep sounds rather than high pitched sounds. These lower sounds support more normal breathing patterns and help the pelvic muscles to relax.
A holistic view of the body
It is commonly known that the back can affect the neck, and the hip can affect the knee. Sometimes, as in the case of the jaw and the pelvic floor, the connection is less obvious. This is why a holistic view of the body is important. By considering all body parts as part of a whole rather than individual body parts to address one at a time, we’re able to consider the big picture.
An experienced physical therapist knows how to consider the full body and make informed treatment choices based on the big picture. Body Restoration Physical Therapy specializes in treating pelvic floor dysfunction, and can help resolve pains from the jaw to the hip using hands on therapy and supportive practices.
TMJ, the pelvic floor, and you
There is a notable correlation between TMJ and pains in the jaw and pelvic floor dysfunction. Not everyone who presents with one will present with the other, however a holistic view of the body and all its functions can help determine the best treatment for your concern.
There is no cure for TMJ or pelvic floor dysfunction; these aren’t conditions that just go away. Don’t be discouraged however, as effective treatment options are available. Long Islanders working with Body Restoration Physical Therapy to treat TMJ and pelvic floor dysfunction can expect hands-on physical therapy, as well as gentle guidance in stress reduction and simple exercises to improve the conditions.
If you suffer with symptoms of TMJ or pelvic floor dysfunction, contact Body Restoration Physical Therapy, conveniently located in Roslyn Heights, New York. Working together, we will determine if physical therapy is right for you.