Category Archives: TMJ

Balancing the Body’s Harmony: The Ancient Art and Modern Science of Acupuncture

Acupuncture is becoming increasingly popular, yet many people remain reluctant to use it as a form of treatment. So, what exactly is it, and how can it help you? We answer these and more below!

What Is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a therapeutic technique of inserting fine, one-time-use pre-sterilized needles into very specific points along the body to assist in pain management and healing of injuries. Patients often ask us if acupuncture is painful. The needles used for acupuncture therapy are extremely fine – patients likely feel a small poke but once the needle is inserted, most patients do not feel much pain.

How Does It Work? – Traditional Chinese Medicine

Acupuncture was developed more than 3,000 years ago in China. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), injuries or illnesses are believed to be the results of an imbalance of energy within the body, specifically within meridians, which are channels of energy flow throughout the body. Acupuncture is used to help restore energy balance by placing fine needles at specific points along these meridians.

How Does It Work? – The Gate Control Theory of Pain

Although acupuncture is an ancient practice in Eastern medicine, its use in Western medicine is relatively recent. Though the exact reason why it works is not totally clear, Western medicine has several different theories as to how acupuncture helps with injury recovery. One of those is the Gate Control Theory of Pain.

The Gate Control Theory of Pain outlines how pain signals reach the brain from the spinal cord. In simple terms, if the ‘gate’ is open at the level of the spinal cord, a pain signal can pass through, reaching the brain where the pain is perceived. If the ‘gate’ is closed, a pain signal cannot pass through, and therefore the brain does not perceive pain. So, using this theory, applying a non-painful stimulus when someone experiences a painful stimulus can activate the closing of the gate and decrease the pain signal to the brain. An example of this would be if someone bangs their knee against a hard surface. Usually, our first instinct is to rub the knee (a non-painful stimulus), which helps us feel less pain.

What Injuries Can Be Treated With Acupuncture

Acupuncture can help in the healing process of many muscle and joint injuries. However, it is important to note that it won’t exactly heal these injuries. For example, if a muscle is torn, acupuncture will not repair the tear. However, it can assist in the symptoms associated with the tear, primarily by decreasing pain. Acupuncture has been used to aid in the recovery of a number of injuries, such as rotator cuff tendonitis, tennis elbow, and mechanical neck and back pain.

What Are The Risks Associated With Acupuncture?

The risks associated with acupuncture treatment are relatively minimal. The most common side effect is soreness and/or bruising in the region where the needles are inserted. The risk of infection is extremely LOW since the needles are pre-sterilized and used once. Some people might feel light-headed or dizzy after acupuncture treatment, so it is important to make sure you are well-hydrated and have eaten before your treatment session. If you are pregnant or have had other medical conditions (ex., cancer, stroke, etc.), there are certain points or areas that your practitioner will avoid. This is why it is extremely important to be thorough when reporting your medical history to your practitioner.

If you would like to learn more, ask your practitioner to discuss whether it would be an appropriate option for you, or book an initial assessment with us here!

Is Your Mask Making you a Mouth Breather?

Our Oakville Physio’s, RMT’s, Chiropodists and Yoga Therapists all wear medical masks throughout their day at work.

Wearing them for so long, many of us are aware that we’ve been spending more time mouth breathing.

Is wearing your mask making you more of a mouth breather too?

There are many surprising negatives about being a consistent mouth breather rather than a nose breather. It is generally much healthier to breath through your nose rather than your mouth.

The resting position of your jaw and mouth should be as such:
  • Lips closed gently
  • Tongue rests gently on the roof of your mouth behind the front teeth (not pressure the teeth)
  • Teeth rest around 3mm apart (molars are not touching)

Negatives of Mouth-Breathing:

  • Mouth breathing is be associated with snoring and sleep apnea
  • Can cause bad breath through altering the bacterial population in the mouth
  • Leads to dry mouth, teeth, tongue and gums. This alters levels of acid in the mouth and can lead to tooth decay
  • Some evidence shows that ADHD symptoms can be exacerbated with mouth breathing
  • Mouth breathers can have altered head and neck positioning. This can lead to neck pain and tension as well as TMJ (Jaw) pain.

Positives of Nose-Breathing:

  • Removal/ filtering of germs, irritants and bacteria
  • Nitros Oxide is released in the nasal passages and follows the inhaled air into the lungs. This is important to immune responses and vasoregulation.
  • The nose and nasal passages warm and humidify the air inhaled
  • Breathing in and out of your nose keeps air in the lungs for longer. This can increase the amount of oxygen that enters the blood stream with each breath.
  • Allows for better jaw, neck and shoulder posture.
  • Allows for better mouth, jaw and facial development.

Check in with yourself during the day in and out of your mask.

What is your resting state of breathing?

Try and revisit the above resting state of breathing we discussed.

Many people our Oakville Physio’s and Massage Therapists treat with neck, shoulder and TMJ issues can benefit from revisiting this type of breathing. Our Yoga Therapist does and excellent job linking this breath with stretching and movement. This helps it become more natural once again.

Contact us to book in with one of our professionals. We are able to direct bill to most insurance companies. We continue to see people in- person from the surrounding Oakville, Milton and Burlington areas and virtually (video call) from all over Ontario!

Use your Voice! The TMJ and Singers

As many of you know, Physio Claire has been treating TMJ  issues at our Oakville Physio Clinic.

Oakville Physio doing acupuncture for treatment of TMJ
Physio Claire providing Acupuncture as part of Physio treatment

Recently she was asked to participate in a podcast at The Full Voice. This site provides resources to vocal teachers and singers.

Many people may not realize the extent to which the TMJ and the surrounding musculature impacts your vocals as a singer.

Here are some things to think about as a Singer from a Physiotherapists perspective:
  • Posture – how our joints and bones are lined up makes a difference in the coordination of the muscles that impact your voice, and the stress paced on your TMJ as you open your mouth
  • Tension – holding excess tension in this area or clenching your jaw impacts the health of the TMJ. It can also impact breath and posture.
  • Mouth Opening– Singing at different ranges requires a different amount of mouth opening (always warm this up!).
  • Prevention – Claire provides a list of tips and tricks on the full voice podcast page (link below)

Click HERE to access the podcast at the The Full Voice

TMJ picture showing Oakville Physiotherapist that treats TMJ issues


TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) “Do’s” – From an Oakville Physio

People are often surprised when they hear that TMJ issues are something that can be treated by our Oakville Physio’s and Massage Therapists. The TMJ, like any other joint in the body, can be injured acutely or over time. While treating the TMJ our Oakville Physiotherapists asses your posture, the joints range of motion, and the surrounding musculature. The findings during your Physio assessment  will direct your Physiotherapy or Massage Therapy treatment. It also will affect what the Physiotherapist or Massage Therapist advises to you as a treatment “prescription”.

Here are some of the “Do’s” in TMJ management:

  •  Stay in the resting position of the Jaw: mouth closed, teeth slightly apart, tongue resting at the top of your mouth and breathing through the nose.
  •  Maintain good posture throughout the day, especially when eating, talking, yawning, singing etc.
  •  When yawning, support the bottom of your jaw with your index finger from preventing excessive opening.
  •  Wear a mouth guard at night if prescribed by your dentist.
  •  Repeat the home exercise program provided during your Physiotherapy treatment, several times a day.

Xray of Jaw showing Oakville Physio for TMJ