Jaw pain

What are your triggers?

Jaw pain is a common problem. It is rarely stand alone, co-existing with other painful problems such as neck pain, headaches, migraines, IBS, pelvic pain and other persistent issues.

People describe tension, clenching, clicking, stiffness, tightness, aching and more. The impact ranges from irritating to disabling, especially if the cause is dystonia. I see both.

Working out your triggers is important. Learning about the situations when you tense your jaw allows you the opportunity to create a new, healthy pattern. Often is when we feel stressed because we are interpreting a situation in a particular way. Pema Chodren talks about our ‘hooks’, which are the things that make us go ‘grrrr’. This is embodied and we tense, classically around the neck and shoulders. Doing this repeatedly creates a pattern and a habit. The cost is often pain.

So, what makes you go ‘grrrrr’ and tense up? What could you do instead?

You might stop and take 2-3 deeper, slower breaths and then decide to take a different perspective. You might move your body, get a drink, go and talk to someone, go outside or listen to music.

Pain is there for a reason. It’s a need state like hunger or thirst. We should not ignore it. Instead we can acknowledge the pain and choose to address our needs by taking a positive action in line with health and building wellness. This as opposed to a quick fix that temporarily eases suffering but does nothing to solve the issue. We are encouraged to do this in society and is one reason why so many people suffer.

Further, you can check in through the day: how am I? What am I doing with my jaw? Then you can respond with presence, breathing and healthy actions. The state of calmness and relaxation results from the practice of certain skills. We are rarely taught these skills but when we learn and practice, our lives can improve.

RS

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