The Relationship Between A Weak Neck And Difficulty Eating A Burger

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Stay with me on this.

Overview: weak neck flexors>poor neck posture>jaw translation>TMJ dysfunction>disc dislocation>decreased range of motion in mouth opening.

Our skulls do not sit perfectly on top of our spines like a lollipop. They are pitched forward, which means muscles have to hold our head on our spine. What is supposed to happen is our deep neck flexors (front of the neck) hold our gaze straight ahead. However, they are small muscles and they fatigue, especially when sitting at a desk for 40 hours a week. It is easier to let the meaty upper traps to passively hold on to our skull. They don’t like that. My patients always say ‘I hold my stress in my shoulders’, and I want to say ‘no, you hold our head on your shoulders’. This is very common and is called ‘upper cross syndrome’. See below:

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Now, add a desk job with prolonged poor positioning like this, and over time your jaw starts to migrate backwards towards your ear. The muscles and capsule of the jaw adaptively shorten, and next thing you know, your jaw starts to click when you open your mouth. This is the tell-tale sign of TMJ dysfunction. The temporomandibular joint is a hinge joint with a disc between the bones.

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When the jaw (mandible) migrates backwards, it allow the disc to slip forward. The clicking is the disc dislocating and relocating. Did you used to get a clicking, but has since stopped? This is a sign of it getting worse. When the disc slips forward enough, instead of relocating back, it locks. Now it is difficult to open you mouth all the way.

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It’s the fourth of July, and you are backyard BBQing. Now you have to be that person who has to use a fork a knife to cut your juicy burger into small pieces. Just doesn’t taste quite the same.

This can be fixed. Find a physical therapist in your area that treats musculoskeletal problems:

Christopher EllisComment