Archive for July, 2009

The Hip Bone’s Connected to the Jaw Bone
July 19, 2009

Over the years I have sung a bar or two of that song to my patients while reiterating how everything is connected.  One structure effects the other in ways we never could have imagined. 

Recently while reading articles in the 2009 Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapuetics, Volume 32, Number 5; I came across: Influence of the Temporomandibular Joint on Range of Motion of the Hip Joint in Patients with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.  The conclusion of the study suggested that dysfunction of the jaw joint plays an important role in the restriction of hip motion with patients who experience complex regional pain syndrome.  Basically there is a connection between these two regions of the body; the jaw and the hips.

I was always interested in the jaw, because as a young child my mother would hear me grinding my teeth at night and when she would come into my room and touch me, the grinding would stop.  For some reason this stuck with me and in Chiropractic College I remember looking up articles that related the jaw to many pain syndromes of the body including the neck, back, hips, feet and more. 

I also remember taking a seminar where the chiropractor teaching the class, taught us the importance of considering the dysfunction of the jaw as the to cause of chronic pain issues.  This information became evident to him when a patient of his with chronic knee pain never received relief after undergoing many surgeries.  When the chiropractor began to work on the joints and soft tissue of the jaw, the knee pain went away.  This made the chiropractor much more cogniscent of evaluating the jaw as the possible cause of some chronic pain syndromes.

This is why since graduating in 1989 I have often given patients the following jaw exercises to do at home , which some have even done in their car.  With the mouth closed bring the tip of the tongue onto the top front two teeth covering them completely.  Then sweep the tongue all the way back to the molars, sweep back to the front and then sweep again to the other molars and do this a few times with the upper teeth.  Now bring the tongue down to cover the bottom front two teeth and then sweep the tongue all the way back and forth from one molar to the other molar a few times.  Next open the mouth as wide as it will go and then stick out the tongue as long as it will go, holding up to 10 seconds.  Make sure the shoulders are relaxed while doing these stretches.  This often will be felt in the jaw so don’t overdo it if this is painful, perhaps even ice the jaw joints afterwards.

In the article the authors state they that are not sure why the jaw and the hip joints are connected, yet I have a few ideas why.  Years ago while in anatomy lab when the feet of a cadaver where crossed, it showed movement in the atlas, which is the top vertebrae of the spine.  When you cross the feet, this moves the leg bones, and muscles from the legs hook into the hips.  The muscles in the hips hook into the tailbone and muscles and tendons that hook into the tailbone make there way up to the low back vertebrae, then up to the midback vertebrae and then up to the neck vertebrae.  Combine that information with the knowledge that the jaw muscles connect  to the muscles in the neck.   Based on the knowledge of anatomy, including the muscles, tendons and ligaments that hook from one structure to the other, the pulling of one may create a domino affect up and down to the other structures of the body.

The whole idea is to be respectful that everything really does have to work in harmony for total health and wellbeing.  So the next time you are having chronic pain, try the jaw exercises and see if they help!

July 8, 2009

Mothering is the name of a Magazine which focuses on many topics including, breastfeeding, organic food, autism, allergies, natural toys, cloth diapers, home birth, birthing your way, raising confident kids, cosleeping, midwives, circumcision, natural health care and so much more.

The magazine has so many informative articles and yet my favorite part is the “Your Letters” section.  This contains letters that are endearing, honest and interesting which often are accompanied by pictures.  Many pictures are of little babies being nursed, toddlers pretending to nurse a doll or fathers carrying or cosleeping with their little one.  These letters and pictures always bring such joy to my heart, which is why it’s my favorite part.

I also enjoy the earthiness of the articles and the groundedness of the information.  It speaks to many of my ideals and I think it is a wonderful treasure to share with others, which is why I keep a copy or two in my office at all times.  Even though the title is Mothering they do have articles about men and parenting, so I hope you’ll look for it next time you’re at the bookstore, library or at the local health food store.  They also have a website

Sincerely,   Dr.  Liselotte Schuster