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How Do Jaw and Pelvic Pain “Click”?

jaw pain

Are you noticing aches and pains in your jaw as well as in your pelvis? These pains might seem unrelated but think again! If you’re wondering how your pelvic and jaw pain are related or “click,” first consider whether you may be struggling with a jaw problem which often accompa-nies pelvic floor dysfunction. TMD, short for Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction, is a prob-lem that causes pain in the jaw joint and its surrounding areas. Symptoms can vary from clicking, popping, lock jaw, difficulty opening the mouth, persistent ear aches, tenderness above the jaw and headaches. If you notice any of these symptoms in your jaw, you could be struggling with TMD.

When TMD symptoms occur in the head or jaw, how can this affect your pelvis? This is where unique lifestyle habits and postures, even those that you may be unaware of, come in to play. Our posture greatly affects the neck, jaw and pelvis because these body parts are linked through many connections of the spine. For example, if you tend to slouch or hunch over, your body may compensate by extending your neck, jaw and pelvis without even realizing it. If you work sitting at a desk or using a computer for long periods of time, the muscles that flex the hip and the mus-cles in your neck become shortened. Certain types of posture and walking patterns can even cause one side of your pelvis to tilt more than the other. These imbalances can create pain and tightness and they can also lead to other movements up the body and into the jaw. Lifestyle hab-its influence our posture as well. Stress can cause clenching of jaw or pelvic muscles, thus in-creasing pressure and pain in one or both regions. Anxiety causes this reaction too and over time, the jaw and pelvis may get stuck in this tense holding pattern together.

Now that you know how TMD and pelvic pain “click,” it is easy to see how treating jaw pain can bring relief to the pelvis and vice versa. Here are some exercises that therapists at Rebalance rec-ommend to align your jaw and pelvic joints into their proper positions to relieve your pain:

1. Perfect Your Posture: Become more aware of your posture and learn how to correct it. Make sure that your pelvis, spine and head are lined up with one another to keep your body in better balance. A quick way to check your posture is to sit or stand up as usual and observe the posi-tioning of your chin. Is it extending forward or upward in front of your shoulders? If so, subtly stand or sit more upright while aligning the chin back and inward. This is called a chin tuck. By making a conscious effort with this, it will help you to keep your head, neck and spine aligned through to the pelvis. After a little bit of practice, this new positioning should become easier and more natural. Improved overall posture puts much less stress on muscles which should help alle-viate pain.

2. Breathe, Relax and Rest: This little exercise is a great way to ease the tension from clenching jaw and pelvic muscles to find some pain relief! Rest your tongue on the roof of your mouth and breathe diaphragmatically (deeply and fully through your abdomen, as opposed to shallowly through your chest). As you breathe diaphragmatically through your nose, relax your jaw mus-cles and focus on the relaxed movement of your pelvic floor muscles. Allow your jaw and pelvic floor to relax or “drop,” and while inhaling, focus on the feeling of these muscles lengthening and loosening. While exhaling, continue to focus on this lengthened and relaxed feeling in both your pelvic floor and jaw muscles, and they will begin to loosen up together!

Whether you have jaw or pelvic pain, consider how one of these areas may be negatively impact-ing the other and give these exercises a try to relieve both! If you have a history of jaw pain and/or pelvic floor dysfunction, physical therapy can offer additional strategies for seeking relief and answers. Talk to a Rebalance therapist for more guidance and a hands-on evaluation to see how specific bodywork and exercise can benefit the jaw and pelvis, getting them both “clicking” just right for you!

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