Who knew? Shoulder pain could be linked to jaw and neck alignment
January 13th, 2012
“Who knew? The orthostatic balance of the head and cervical (neck) spine could be linked to shoulder pain?”
My client, Sheila got rid of her chronic shoulder pain after I treated her jaw & neck. This is her story.
One morning a year ago, I began to feel pain in my left shoulder doing routine activities, such as reaching up for things, reaching backwards, and putting on a jacket or seatbelt. I have always enjoyed good health except for occasional bouts of low back aches and more recently carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands. I was told by one health professional that the
shoulder would probably start to “freeze” and was given daily range of motion exercises, to prevent this from happening. In spite of following this advice and consulting a number of people for different treatments, the pain escalated.
This started to affect my quality and length of sleep as I could not sleep on my left side. Perhaps in response to the
pain, I started to clench and grind my teeth, to the extent that my dentist said he could detect vertical cracks appearing in my teeth. He prescribed a night guard.
Years ago, I met Cathy (who specializes in TMD) to rehabilitate my jaw, post- surgery. I returned to her because I remembered her telling me, craniomandibular problems are often associated with a change in the neck’s natural spinal curve. This can compress the cervical 5/6/7 nerves as they exit the neck. These are the peripheral nerves that influence the shoulder or anywhere in the arm.
Dentists fixing the bite in conjunction with a physiotherapist working on aligning the bite with the upper neck will influence the spinal curve and therefore shoulder pain.
In the head there are 3 planes; The vertical, bipupillary, otic/vestibular and plane of occlusion. Mariano Rocobado, world renowned physiotherapist specializing in TMD states that “If any of the 3 horizontal planes are not horizontal, adaptive postures will be made over time by the rest of the spinal column to restore these planes
to level as an instinctive survival trait. In other words humans must see straight and eat to survive!” After assessing my shoulder joint and rest of my body mechanics, Cathy treated my neck joints and surrounding muscles – at
this point, I did not notice any difference. However, at my next appointment, she began working on my jaw and neck. She reminded me that the movement of my jaw and upper neck must complement each, otherwise the body posture adapts by altering the curve of the spine. After this treatment, I experienced a vast improvement in my shoulder discomfort and what’s more, my carpal tunnel symptoms lessened considerably as well! It seemed that the combination of work on the neck and jaw together had done the trick. In retrospect, I wonder why I didn’t remember,
connect the dots and figure this out!
Thankfully, Cathy was able to put it all together. I am very grateful
that she was able to help, when I was close to giving up and living with it. She’s one amazing gal and I always enjoy my time with her – I appreciate her sense of humor, her positive attitude, knowledge and her global approach to assessing body mechanics.