We had a great example of this at Fit4Function a few week ago where a client came in with a painful jaw/teeth on her right side. She had been to see her dentist who couldn’t find any abnormalities. Through using functional neurology and 3 dimensional movement I was able to connect the pain in her jaw with a left ankle sprain that had occurred over 30 years previous.
This probably sounds a little crazy to you. How can an ankle injury from 30 years ago effecting the opposite side jaw??
The initial trauma to the ankle sprain caused a reaction in the subconscious brain to restrict the range of motion at the ankle in order to protect it from any further damage.
As the body still needs to be working at 100%, it needs to find the range of motion it lost at the ankle somewhere else in the body. Now this would normally mean that the muscles surround the next joint either side of it begin to work harder than they would like. They take on extra responsibility. This has a snowball effect as it then means the muscles above that have to work slightly hard and so on. From the diagram above, we can see what can happen to the alignment of your standing posture.
In this specific case the client moved away from the trauma ankle, shifting weight onto the other leg. This then changes hip height, spine alignment, shoulder height and then the angle of the skull sitting on the neck. We now have a situation where by the body is trying to maintain a base of support by keeping upright. The muscles on the side of the jaw which run into the collar bone, chest and back are now either tight and long or tight and short. This pulls on the jaw and its surrounding joints possibly causing a pain signal from the subconscious brain informing you, you need to do something different as it thinks what is currently happening is ‘perceived’ as dangerous.
Now, don’t get wrong this doesn’t always happen. I’ve clients who had trauma to an ankle and the long term pain stays in the ankle, or it has moved to the same side knee, opposite hip or lower back. Each brain will organise itself in a different way. That is why you can never assume and must always treat each client as an individual.
Now the initial thought is to work on the area experiencing pain. However, we now can see that the ankle is still ‘perceived’ as dangerous and so heavily restricted even after 30 years.
By resting the button for the subconscious, the ankle was no longer ‘perceived’ to be dangerous and then enabled full unrestricted range of motion to return to the ankle. The next stage was to then educate the subconscious how to use the ankle through 3 planes of motion and then finally integrate it into the rest of the body using various phases of gait.
Pain through jaw disappeared and ‘normal’ posture returned.
Key points – always look of the true cause rather than treating the symptoms. The subconscious brain will always using previous experiences (injury history) to decide on future outcomes regrind movement.
If you have unexplained movement issues, including injuries or long term pain or you wish to prevent injuries form occurring and/or want to improve you movement capabilities then please feel free to get in contact.
Have great day.
Function Movement Specialist