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Natural Awakenings South Jersey

How CranioSacral Therapy Can Help TMJ Dysfunction; Connectivity Therapy and Holistic Health

TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint and everyone has two temporomandibular joints. It is the articulation where the jaw (mandible) meets with the cranium (at the temporal bone). The TMJ is responsible for the opening and closing of the mouth. Many people are diagnosed with TMJ dysfunction due to pain, clicking, popping and locking of their jaws during range of motion of their jaw. 

 During an evaluation of an individual suffering from TMJ dysfunction, it’s important to assess the patient holistically. An understanding of the onset and occurrence of symptoms, postural assessment, occupation, physical, mental and emotional health, as well as lifestyle, assist in understanding how to direct treatment. Often times, TMJ dysfunction is not the primary problem, but a symptom of another underlying problem. It is of utmost importance to figure out what the core problem is in order to create lasting results and relief from TMJ dysfunction.

 Dr. John Upledger believed that, “TMJ is going to manifest whenever you have a psychological, emotional or physiological situation that is difficult.  It’s like an alarm system going off and any number of things can cause the alarm to go off.”

 CranioSacral Therapy (CST) is a light tough manual therapy technique that uses pressure that is equivalent to the weight of a nickel. With CST, the entire body is assessed looking at the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, the presence of tension or restriction patterns in the body and the alignment of tissue, fascia and bones. The focus of a CranioSacral Therapist is to work with the patient’s body to assist with improving the mobility of cerebrospinal fluid and blood, elimination of compression or tension patterns, and improving the structural and anatomical alignment throughout the body. It is through this work that CranioSacral Therapists facilitate the patient’s innate ability to heal. The intention is to restore function by eliminating any restrictions which allow for the resolution of any primary or secondary issues.

 CST calms the autonomic nervous system, which allows the body to function at a more optimal level, without being in “fight or flight”. By balancing the nervous system, muscle tension, which may also contribute to the pain of TMJ dysfunction, can be decreased and the body will have an easier time achieving a restful state to allow for restoration and healing.  

 This treatment technique also has psychological benefits as it can reduce anxiety, stress and depression. A natural response to stress is to clench the teeth/jaw, which compresses the tempromandibular joints and sets up the joint surfaces for dysfunction. By decreasing the body’s stress, teeth/jaw clenching decreases. CST assists the body in releasing somatoemotional experiences. Such a release is the body letting go of the residual effects of trauma in the tissues and cells which improves the body’s ability to balance, heal and be well.  

 CST is a great option for TMJ dysfunction since it is gentle and non-invasive for someone who is in a pain. It is a holistic approach addressing the physical and emotional aspects of healing. CST assists with pain, muscle imbalances and physical malalignment. Patients with TMJ dysfunction that receive CST treatment may quickly notice a change in their everyday function, such as decreased pain, clicking and popping, being able to eat foods that used to be a problem and no longer needing to wear a mouth guard. CranioSacral Therapists work to assist the patient in facilitating changes within their body to improve their quality of life. 

 Melissa Barton, a Licensed Occupational Therapist who practices CranioSacral Therapy, works with patients who suffer from TMJ dysfunction. She practices at Connectivity Therapy and Holistic Health located at 987 Haddon Ave., in Collingswood. For more information or to make an appointment call 732-224-1280 or visit 

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