Well it all depends on what the cause of the misalignment is. However in most cases probably – yes!
Most people don’t even know that they may have a misaligned jaw. In fact a partner or loved one may hear you grind your teeth at night, whilst you are fast asleep. A common reason for grinding teeth is holding stress in your subconscious.
Chewing is often done one sided, i.e. we prefer chewing in one direction more than the other. However just like you wouldn’t carry a bag on just one shoulder, the same is true with our jaw joints. We want to ensure we get equal movement through both sides.
We have two temporomandibular joints (TMJ) in front of each ear. That’s where you can often feel some ache or pain from teeth grinding or too much clenching of the TMJ. One of the main muscles that creates movement of the TMJ is the temporalis muscle which spans over the side of the head, commonly causes headaches in this area.
As chiropractors and osteopaths we are trained to know about the deeper connection between the muscles round the back of the neck and the jaw area. So a misuse of the TMJ can have a profound knock on effect to the rest of the spine.
One way of treating the TMJ is via the spinal joints and nerves. Another is by holding onto the jaw joint itself and performing a direct manipulation. Remember that although this can help, we must still consider the overall lifestyle that may be the root cause of the problem.
So you have woken up with back pain and you have probably also searched online to see what the best solution is for it. Some of the advice may have recommended for you to be active and keep moving. Following this if you have gone for a walk you quickly realise that your back pain is still there or even getting worse.
So what should you do? Do you keep walking and have the mindset of “no pain no gain”? Or do you take rest to stop the pain getting further worse?
There are a number of things that can cause low back pain. Until you find the source of the problem it’s difficult to provide specific advice for your current symptoms.
However in most cases if your pain is being aggravated, even by advice you have read from seemingly reputable sources online (or anywhere else) you must stop that activity. That pain is your body’s way of telling you that this is a crisis situation and that it must be addressed and resolved properly.
You must avoid anything that is aggravating your lower back pain, even if it is walking or moving. So get into a position that makes the lower back pain more comfortable. This allows the body to start healing those tissues, rather than further injuring and aggravating that problem.
I often get asked if I can help someone suffering with a trapped nerve.
In short – YES!
However, how do we know exactly what the “trapped nerve” is?
A lot of people may experience pain, numbness, tingling, pins and needles, loss of power – all these types of symptoms if it is a trapped nerve.
But the real question is where is it being trapped?
Until you find the exact point where the nerve is being trapped, there is no proper way of resolving it. These types of conditions are biomechanical meaning it’s a physical problem, so no tablet, no cream, no drug is going to change the biomechanical challenge of pinch.
To resolve it, there needs to be a physical movement to that area to untrap or unpinch the affected nerve.
I prefer calling it pinched rather than trapped.
It’s very much like when you have lights in a building, to turn a light on that’s in the ceiling, you need to go to a switch on the wall. The reason that works is because we all know there is a wire that goes from the switch to the light communicating what to do. If that wire was pinched somewhere when you go to turn the light on by pressing the switch on the wall, it won’t turn on.
Other causes could be the light bulb itself may need replacing, or the fuse in the fusebox may have been tripped, or there may be a power outage at the mains for the whole street.
That’s just like what happens with our body.
When you look at the spine, the nervous system that is housed inside, and those nerves that exit the spine supply everything in the body.
The nerves in the lower back (lumbar spine) supply the legs
Those nerves in the mid back (thoracic spine) supply most of your organs.
And the nerves in the neck (cervical spine) supply the head and arms.
If you experience any pain, numbness, tingling, loss of power, pins and needles, it may not be a local problem, i.e. where you are experiencing those symptoms. There may be a link back to somewhere else in the spine where the nerves are coming from. Or it may be higher up in the central nervous system.
So until you find that mechanical challenge your body is experiencing on those nerves, no drugs, no tablets, no cream is going to relieve that pressure. Not even some exercises, because they may aggravate the issue if you haven’t dealt with the root cause.
Although there isn’t an exercise that I can give you to relieve a trapped nerve, what I can say with confidence is that it well worth visiting a local professional who specialises, like a chiropractor or an osteopath, in finding the source of your problem.
It’s really important to find the source of the trapped nerve, because only then can you release the pinching of the nerve, allowing the nerve flow to correctly supply the body again.
We have to also consider how long you have had the pinched nerve. Because the longer the nerve has been pinched, the more potential weakness you can get, with regards to the signals into those areas.
Before I treat any patient, or even examine them, we go through a full case history. This helps me find out more information about their symptoms, their health history, their lifestyle goals.
I then will also carefully examine the patient. You can often see in my videos where I treat my patients, that I check which specific level in the spine needs the adjustment, which releases the tension in the joints, the pressure on the nerves, restoring normal nerve function back in the body.
Research has also found that by adjusting a level in the spine that is affecting a nerve supplying a part of the body, that the body then sends messages back to the nervous system, further strengthening the connections – it’s like a complete electrical circuit.
Very similar to your broadband. Although your internet service provider sends the bulk of the data to your building, your modem will fire back little messages letting the ISP know it’s there. So our body is like the building, and the ISP is our nervous system, which are sending messages back and forth to each other.
Like most things, once things are working well, there is always a risk that the pinching may return, or a new injury may occur. Regular check ups reduce the risk of recurrence.
For longer term relief we need to also consider lifestyle choices along side regular maintenance where appropriate.
If you get into trouble and have treatment which feels good, but then don’t look to prevent it from coming back so end up going back to your bad habits, only for the condition to return.
The reason for that is biology, bad habits and common sense.
Once my patients have gone through their main course of care I often advise on how to maintain or further improve their condition beyond just pain relief or avoiding symptoms.
It’s much like when a building is on fire. Putting the fire out is like dealing with the symptoms only. However, to ensure that the fire doesn’t come you need to correct the original problem and check regularly to make sure it doesn’t come back. That’s much like what our body is like.
It’s also going to give you a better chance of correcting a problem before it becomes too big, therefore improving the outcome even more.
There are several studies showing this to be the case with musculoskeletal conditions. Which makes sense. If you stop taking care of your body, get out of good habits of doing certain exercises or movements, having regular checkups to catch conditions and prevent injury then there’s a higher risk of poor health and less than optimal function.
For those that get into these bad habits tend to call us back in around 5 months time as it takes around this much time for them to start noticing a few symptoms creep back into and affect their lifestyle.
Let’s take the example of a professional athlete who is on a maintenance program, but is preparing for an event. I may find by them coming to see me more frequently in the build up to that event to be beneficial and ensure they are at their optimum.
The same applies for those who have hobbies and want to continue to enjoy those hobbies.
I also see a lot of ambitious patients who want career progression or entrepreneurs who need to function at their peak in order to serve the needs of their business. Our body is still the instrument that we require in order to perform those activities. So these examples may require for someone to be sitting in an office for several hours, or sitting twisted in a boardroom meeting. If they are not able to sit in that way their work is likely to be affected and therefore they are not going to be able to get what they need done.
With chiropractic and osteopathy it’s just like when you regularly see your dentist, have your car serviced, get your heating boiler checked annually.
Have you, or do you know someone who has been suffering with low back pain for a short while or a really, really long time, perhaps for many years?
Most people suffering with low back pain get very concerned, really stressed and worried. Quite rightly so! The pain is a good indication that something is wrong with the body, and needs urgent attention.
A lot people tend to contact loved ones for tips or advice. Others may look online for an attempt at a self diagnosis. However the best thing to do in any case is seek professional advice.
I see thousands of patients every year suffering with low back pain, or some sort of symptoms. At the first meeting they often tell me “Trishul, I’ve tried everything!”
That’s when I will take down a detailed case history, asking questions about what they have been up to, what has been going on in their lives seeking the possible cause of their symptoms.
I will also ask about what they have tried, what makes it feel better or worse. They may have tried painkillers, heat, ice, certain exercises, some gadgets or supports. Due to sheer desperation to find relief they attempt all these things, sometimes at the same time, causing even more confusion and chaos within the body. Ultimately in a lot of cases these leads to a point where they are in a state not able to fix the problem themselves.
Some people get very worried about seeking professional advice, as if by chance if they don’t confirm a diagnosis, then it may not actually exist. (This is madness in my opinion!)
The sooner you get a professional diagnosis, the better the prognosis (chances of improving the condition) and the more efficient it is to get onto the correct path to fix the problem.
I was speaking with someone recently who told me they had been taking a whole bunch of painkillers. I explained that painkillers are not going to help the problem in the long term, because their condition was not due to a deficiency in painkillers. In fact I have yet to meet someone who has a deficiency in painkillers (no such condition exists).
Another person I spoke with said they were not sure why they suddenly had this pain, because they had done nothing out of the ordinary. However, the thing they had not understood is whatever they had been doing, in terms of any lifestyle choices they had made, was slowly but surely leading them on a path where their body could no longer compensate, and therefore ending up with this enormous pain!
We get everything checked regularly to prevent problems, from teeth and eyes, to cars and heating boilers in your home. Your spine and body are the same! (Most people probably look after their cars better than their own body). By having regular check ups, it increases your chance of preventing a problem from occurring in the first place. In the off chance that a problem occurred anyway, then because of those regular check ups they get picked up quicker, meaning the prognosis is better – yay!
However if you are already in a lot of discomfort then we need to find the root cause of your problem. You would never expect a surgeon to ask you to jump up onto the surgery table to perform surgery at your first consultation without first having taken the time to go through a full case history, a thorough examination and determine the best course of care for you. The same is true for your chiropractor or osteopath. Before I treat any patient, the reason I have been able to achieve great results is by carefully analysing that patient’s condition, and prescribe the best solution for their problem based on published research and my years of experience.
If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me on any of my socials and I will always take the time to help you out.