Neck & Back Pain
When suffering from neck and back pain a discussion has to be made regarding mouth breathing. A simple look at the primary functions of the mouth is that it allows us to speak and gives us our ability to eat. Unfortunately, the consequences of mouth breathing can create much unwanted side affects. One of the primary consequences of mouth breathing is a forward head posture. Our brain appreciates when we mouth breath and positions our head so that we can be more efficient to receive air into our lungs. I have coined a term of “standup CPR” to describe the positions of our body as a result of mouth breathing. To understand this concept I would like to discuss CPR.
Many of you have completed courses in CPR(Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation). When a person stops breathing and you want to administer CPR, one of the movements that is performed is a “Head Tilt” or “Chin Lift”. This is performed by placing one hand on the victim’s forehead, and two fingers on the bony part of the jaw. The head is gently tilted backwards as noted above. This will open the airway and lift the tongueoff the back of the throat so that there is clear passage to the lungs. Oncethis maneuver is completed CPR is begun. As I stated “Standup CPR” is a term I have coined because it is verysimilar in the positioning of the head when we start CPR, however, we arestanding up. This occurs when we transition from nasal breathing to mouthbreathing. The head is not merelyleaning
forward but is subluxed forward so that the tongue can bere-positioned to receive the necessary air flow to ventilate our lungs.
Our brain is the culprit in creating this movement. The human brain is a survivalist and will doall that it can to keep us alive… even at the consequence of creating otherproblems. By placing our head in thisforward position creates havoc on our skeletal frame. Ideally speaking, the head is net neutralwhen it is positioned over our skeletal frame. However the result of holding this forward position can create havocbecause of the muscle fatigue that occurs. Our heads weight about 10 to 12 pounds. When the the head is subluxed forward it creates the equivalency of 12pounds of pressure on our back and neck. Just imagine if one were to carry a 10 pound back pack on the front ofour skeletal frame throughout the day. Certainly one could appreciate the muscular pain resulting from holdingthe head in this position all day long.
The following are symptoms that are very commonly foundwith our patients. It is our desire tofind the origin of these problems. When a practitioner treats origins of problems many times thesymptoms will usually disappear. Eachsymptom will be defined with a simple understanding and by no means suggeststhat we are making a diagnosis without an exam. The definitions are possible reasons but certainly are not strictlylimited to these
Jaw pain- pain located just in front of the ear canalsuggesting the presence of inflammation within the Temporal MandibularJoint(TMJ) as a result nighttime loading from bruxism or from a possible macrotrauma
Pain when chewing- when one chews there isactivation of the both jaws joints that if inflamed will cause pain
Facial pain- depending on the location of the pain, thissuggests overuse of muscles engaged in clenching the jaw at night
Eye pain- the muscles connected to the jaw joint havetheir origins on a bone just behind the eyes which can result in inflammationfrom overuse of these muscles
Neck, shoulder and neck pain- this problem could be aconsequence of head position through out the day from mouth breathing
Limited ability to open mouth- this could result fromeither a micro or macro trauma to the jaw joint. Micro trauma such as bruxism can result indamage within the soft tissues of the joint resulting in the inability to fullyopen.
Jaw joint locking- if continual damage occursto the jaw joint the damaged soft tissue within the joint can affect or resistopening or another possibility of locking could be from over opening
Ear congestion- because of the proximityof the middle ear to the TM joint, any inflammation developed within the thisjoint can make its way into the middle ear giving a feeling of congestion
Dizziness - because the middle ear can be affected fromTM disorders dizziness can occur
Tinnitus - It has been found that there are remnants ofsoft tissue attachment through the jaw joint to one of the middle ear bone
Morning hoarseness- this might suggest that aperson might mouth breath at night
Dry mouth upon awaking - just as morninghoarseness, this symptom can also suggests that a person is mouth breathing
Fatigue - fatigue is different from being sleepy. Ithas been found that daily mouth breathing can increases or fatigue
Difficulty falling asleep - insomnia is the mostcommon type of sleep disorder and has many reasons for this symptom and paincertainly falls into this category
Tossing and turning frequently - suggests fragmented sleepwhich can result from pain or not be able to get into their deep sleep
Repeated awakenings - this could suggests aperson might have a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea
Feeling unrefreshed in the morning - can result from notgetting good quality or duration of sleep
Significant daytime drowsiness - can be a failure of notgetting enough sleep
Frequent heavy snoring - is a result from loosetissue vibrating during breathing-see below
Affects the sleep of others - possible result fromexcessive movement, noise or arousals from sleep which could affect others
Gasping when awaking - this can be found whenone awakes from having and event from sleep apnea-see below
Told that I “stop breathing” during sleep - sometime persons canexperience a sleep apnea event without being awakened
Night time choking spells - this can suggest ahypopnea during sleep which a result from a decrease if not a complete stoppageof breathing-see below
Teeth crowding - this can suggest that aperson did not fully develop his or her mouth in their youth which sometimescan be a result of mouth breathing