Jaw Pain? Look no further!

The letters TMJ stand for temporo-mandibular joint, the joint attaching your jaw to your head. You can feel it moving in front of your ears when you open and close your mouth.

Your jaw region contains muscles, bones, joints, ligaments and membranes which all play an important role in jaw function. Dysfunction or irritation to these structures can cause pain. Pain in the jaw can also be from distant structures, for example upper neck pain can refer to the face or even pain originating from the heart can be experienced as facial pain.

Problems with your TMJ can present as:

– Clicking or popping with jaw movement
– Locking with opening or closing of your mouth
– Pain with chewing, talking or yawning
– Tender points on muscles around the jaw
– Clenching of teeth throughout day or night

Treatment for TMJ dysfunction depends on the cause. If it is due to postural or muscular problems, osteopathic treatment can help to reduce your symptoms and relax any jaw muscle spasms you may be experiencing. Your osteopath may teach you some exercises or stretches to do after treatment, which will aim to help further reduce your discomfort. Jaw pain can be complex and may require a multi faceted approach. If symptoms persist you may require a referral to an orthodontist, or if problems are related to stress, implementation of stress management techniques may be required.

If you feel like any of the above symptoms are describing what you may be feeling, give us a call and we will do all we can to help!


Hip Anatomy and Impingement syndrome:

The hip joint forms a solid connection between the lower limb and pelvic girdle, thus meaning it is designed for stability and weight-bearing rather than to offer a large range of mobility. The joint is a ball and socket joint formed between the thigh-bone (Femur) and the pelvis (acetabulum) and gains its stability from large supporting ligaments and muscles.

In the healthy hip joint the femoral head is able to glide smoothly within the socket of the acetabulum however this can be impaired in patients who suffer from femoral acetabula impingement syndrome (FAI). Hip impingement or FAI is a condition in which the structure of the hip joint become modified causing an impaired capability of the femoral head to move freely and smoothly within its socket. Typically this will present as stiffness or tightness of the thigh, hip or groin, poor ability to flex the hip past a right angle and pain in the groin or front of the hip when flexing the knee towards the chest, running/cycling or sitting for periods of time.

FAI commonly arises from high impact sports or exercises that involve a large amount of jumping, changing direction and recurrent movement of the hip joint outside its normal range (such as football, dancing and golf) placing excessive and abnormal load through the hip joint. The stress of ongoing excessive load can lead to either a thickening of the femoral neck (CAM lesion) or deepening of the hip socket (PINCER lesion), or a combination of both which over time can result in damage to the cartilage of the hip joint.

In other cases FAI can be present from birth and be largely asymptomatic until later in life.

What are my treatment options?

In some cases surgical intervention may be required for successful treatment of FAI however there are many conservative measures that can be taken to improve hip functionality and reduce symptoms associated with FAI.
Osteopathic treatment may be able to assist in reducing symptoms of FAI. It is not uncommon with FAI for the muscles of the hip, pelvis and lower back to become tight acting on further limiting the range of motion available at the hip joint. Treatment of soft tissue massage and muscle stretching techniques can be used to help relax and lengthen these muscles, assist in reducing inflammation and ultimately reducing pain.

Exercise based rehab focused around promoting hip mobility may also assist in the ongoing management and reduction of symptoms – Here we have provided you with 3 of our favorite at home stretches and exercises to give a try!

1. Kneeling hip flexor stretch

2. Pelvic bridges

3. Hip adduction stretch (Frog stretch)

If you are currently suffering from hip or groin pain and would like further personalised advice on treatment and management options feel free to contact the clinic today to discuss whether Osteopathy or Exercise Physiology may be able to get you back into what you love doing!

Desk bound? School from home? Read this!

While it may be tempting to jump on the couch or lay in bed with the laptop when based at home to do work it is important to consider the effect this may have on your posture and body.

Some of the most common complaints we see from suboptimal desk set ups include upper back and shoulder tightness/discomfort, neck pain or tightness, headaches, lower back pain and hip tightness/discomfort.

To assist we have put together a simple guide to help you with an at home office set up aimed at reducing stress and strain on the body.

1. Setting up or choosing the right chair

It is important when setting up a home office to choose a chair that comfortably supports the natural curves of the spine – the lower back support of the chair should have a nice curve that fits in with the curve of your lumbar spine/lower back
Try to choose a chair with arm rests that are either adjustable or that allow your elbows to rest comfortably beside your body with your shoulders relaxed
Aim to have knees at a height that is lower or in line with your hip level
There should be a gap of 2-3 fingers width between the front of the chair and the back of the knees
Feet should rest comfortably on the floor – if needed you can utilise a footrest or some old sturdy books under feet so that they rest comfortably on a flat surface.

2. Setting up the monitor

Aim to set up on a flat surface that allows the keyboard and mouse to be on the same surface
Aim for the screen to be distanced about one arm’s length away from the body
The top of your screen should be at or just below eye level to reduce visual strain
Avoid positions that will cause your neck to be arched backwards or your chin to be sticking out forwards
Choose a font size that easily visible and readable.

3. Keyboard and mouse

Your keyboard should be positioned straight in front of you to avoid twisting through the body
Try and position keyboard slightly away from the edge of the desk to allow forearms to rest comfortably on the desk and parallel to the ground
Your wrists should be straight and have a 90-degree angle at your elbows.

4. Desk set up

You should aim to have a comfortable clearance below your desk to allow room for your legs
Position items used regularly in a semi-circular area within a forearms distance away from the body, items used semi-regularly should be placed in a semicircular area within an arms distance from the body
If telephones are used frequently place this within the primary work zone (forearms distance semicircular area) and used in loudspeaker mode or with a headset

Get creative with household items to improve your at homework station – this can include using old books or shoe boxes to adjust monitor level, using pillows etc for added lower back support.

A Real Pain in the Neck – 3 strategies to help ease your neck pain

Neck pain can be bloody debilitating. It affects our concentration, our mood, our movement and more. It can also be really frustrating and stressful too, especially if its more intense and not common for you.

Many different things can be the cause of your neck pain, from more benign causes like a joint sprain or muscle strain to more sinister causes like an irritation to the nerves or structures further up in the skull.

A thorough assessment by your healthcare professional (Osteopath!) can determine the cause of your neck pain and if it is neuro-musculoskeletal in origin.

If so, there are 3 things that we tell all of our patients that can be of benefit:

Keep moving!

In almost all cases, movement is THE most important factor in your recovery. Our spine and all the joints and muscles that surround it are made to move. Limiting or restricting movement can lead to your pain worsening and even make it hang around for longer than it needs to. Check out our instagram page for my favourite exercise to keep you neck healthy with movement!

Manage your stress

Stress in any form can heighten and worsen any musculoskeletal pain that we have. How often have you found that when we are stressed that all our old aches and pains tend to flare up? Always at the worst possible times! Of course it is never as easy as it sounds, but putting into place some simple strategies like taking deep breaths, taking adequate breaks or trying some mindfulness activities are easier short-term strategies that you can try to help limit stress and its influence on your pain.

Get some good sleep

Again another thing that’s easier said than done! Sleep is so important in recovery and helps the body recharge and regenerate and return to health. Making sure you are off devices at least an hour beforehand, making sure you are comfortable and if necessary, speaking to a pharmacist or to your doctor about some medications to help with the pain in the short-term throughout the day and to aid in your sleep.

Say good bye to headaches and get on with your day!

Headaches describe any pain to the head or face and are one of the most common conditions amongst Australians, with 20-25% of adults suffering from chronic tensions type headaches.
Headaches can occur at any age and seriously weigh you down and interfere with your day-to-day life.
The good news is headaches are generally not serious, and can be easily treated. However, we recommend you consult with your doctor if you are suffering from any of the following:
• New type of headache that appears suddenly and is getting worse
• Symptoms of slurred speech, confusion, weakness in your limbs and drowsiness
• Headache that comes on suddenly when coughing, sneezing, laughing or movement
• Headache following serious trauma to the head or neck

Why do I have it?

If you have recently started a new medication or been involved in a traumatic incident resulting in a bump or knock to the head, it is likely that your headache has occurred as a secondary response to this. It is important to consult with your doctor in these circumstances.
Quiet often it may seem as though your headache has come on for no apparent reason and you can’t seem to figure out why, but there are a number of things that can lead to headaches. Typically when the muscles and joints of the neck become tight and aggravated this causes inflammation and stress that may manifest as a head ache and will often feel like tension or a pulsating feeling in the front, side or base of the head.
Common reasons that cause the neck to become aggravated and cause headaches include poor posture – particularly with desk based jobs and students, stress, poor/lack of sleep and eye strain/squinting.
Other causes of headaches include dehydration, skipping meals/poor nutrition, caffeine withdrawal and hormonal imbalances.

How long until I get better?

The time it will take for your headache to get better will depend on the cause of your headache. Once we determine the cause of your headache, it is easier to estimate how long till you will get better. With appropriate management and advice you can often say goodbye to your headaches within 2-4 weeks.

How do I get better?

Increase your fluid uptake. When you first feel a headache coming on drink plenty of water! Often a headache is our body’s way of telling us that we need to drink more water.
Rest – Getting plenty of rest is beneficial for both your physical and mental health and so can contribute to reducing your headaches. Allowing time to get adequate sleep and rest may help to reduce physical symptoms of headaches as it allows our body to recover. It may also assist in reducing stress within the body that may be resulting in maintaining persistent headaches.
Heat helps to encourage nutrient flow to tissues of the body and promotes muscle recovery. Therefor applying heat to the base of the skull at the end of a busy day can have lasting benefits in the treatment of headache disorders.
If you are still finding it difficult to shake those headaches, Osteopathic treatment may be beneficial. An Osteopath may be able to use a range of techniques including soft tissue massage, joint stretching and movement to address and correct postural imbalances that may contributing to your headaches. An osteopath may also be able to provide you with advice on correct desk set up, stretches and exercises to have you back on the road to recovery and on your way to a headache free life. Typically it may take 2-4 weekly treatments to get on top of your headaches, followed by 2-3 fortnightly – monthly reviews.
If you require more specific advice relating to your headaches or aren’t having success with the above consult with your health care professional.

What can I do to stop it coming back?

There are a number of at home stretches and exercises that you can perform to reduce your likelihood of experiencing headaches we have outlined a few below for you to try.
Taking regular breaks whilst sitting at a desk for work and/or study is essential in maintaining and preventing your headaches. Taking 30 seconds to stretch out the muscles in your neck will help to keep the muscles in a healthy state and contribute to overall neck mobility.
Whilst sitting at your desk for work or study try to pull your shoulder blades back and down towards the ground to assist in achieving optimal posture.
Keeping mobility through the mid back and neck assists with keeping joints healthy, and may decrease your headaches. A simple exercise to maintain mobility in these regions is the cat and camel exercise. This is performed on all fours and involves alternating between drawing the spine to the ceiling to form a “hump” (like a camel), and drawing the spine towards the ground and looking up to the roof (like a happy cat).
As most of us spend majority of our time at our work stations, having an independent assessor come in to evaluate your desk/station set up to ensure it is in a way the best benefits your health. An optimal work-station set up will limit extension through your neck and therefore decrease strain through the muscles at the back of the neck. This can easily be achieved by altering computer screen height, desk and chair height. A workplace ergonomic assessment can be organised with assistance from a healthcare professional.

The osteopaths at Peninsula Osteopathy + Allied Health are all qualified to assess the cause of your headache, and can offer treatment and management advice! Call us on 5253 2345 or book online today!

Is your low back holding you back? Here’s how to manage it!

Managing your low back pain

Most of us have had some sort of low back pain before. From a minor ache and tightness that resolves in a couple of days to more intense, sharp pain that can take a little bit longer and be much more intimidating and frightening!

Regardless of the severity and the duration, there are a few things you can do to make sure that the pain doesn’t linger and affect your life anymore than it has to.

These are some tips we end up saying to the majority of people who present to us with various types of low back pain.

But of course, if there are more serious symptoms like pins and needles, numbness and weakness in your legs then it is important you seek a healthcare professionals opinion.

Keep moving and stay at work

This is probably the most important thing that you can do. Movement is the best medicine for any episode of low back pain. Go for gentle walks and do some gentle stretches. Keep that back moving. Also returning to work and if needed, returning with modified duties improves your chance of recovery and decreases how long your low back pain will hang around for. Some activities may need to be modified to make them easier for you to do and your healthcare professional can help you with this.

Use heat, not ice

A lot of confusion about whether to use heat or ice exists in the community. Of course it depends on the type of your back injury, but generally in acute back injuries or in back injuries that have lasted a long time there is unlikely to be much inflammation, so icing the affected area is unlikely to help. Using heat instead can help relax and decrease the tension in those tight back muscles and help you feel and move better.

Hands-on treatment can help

Your healthcare professional (osteopath etc.) can give you information on what is happening, why you are in pain, recognise if something more sinister is going on and educate you on what you should and shouldn’t do. They can also help relieve some of those aches and pains and give you stretches and exercises to help keep you moving.

Some medications may help, but try conservative treatment first

A great adjunct to movement and hands-on treatment is the addition of certain medications. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist about what may be suitable for you, dependent on your past medical history and complaints. This may not be a long-term option so it is important that medication is used in conjunction with some of the other strategies we have mentioned above.

Stay positive

Above all else, stay positive. Most episodes of more acute low back pain settle within a few weeks and rarely have a longer lasting impact on your quality of life. Keep moving, modify a few things and let the body do its job. Our bodies are amazing at healing themselves and some things just take time.

For personalised advice regarding your low back pain come in and see one of the PO+AH team to help you on your recovery.