Four Effective Full Body Exercises (to be performed with TBA – TMJ Balancing Appliance or OBA – Occlusion Balancing Appliance)
1. Jaw Stretching: Alignment of C1-C2
2. Neck Stretching: Alignment of C3-C7
3. Trunk Stretching: Alignment of Cervical-Thoracic-Lumbar-Sacral-Pelvic
4. Walking Exercise: Alignment of all spines, whole body muscle, entire joints
A large part of successful treatment involves training the mind to maintain positive attitude. Our brain plays a powerful role in physical health and many studies have shown that our moods and mindset can have direct impact to physical state. This is because positive thinking disperses endorphins which helps with pain relief, reducing stress and enhancement of immune system. In contrast, thinking negatively releases noradrenaline which can increase stress and anxiety. Therefore, training to maintain a healthy mentality is very important in speeding up the recovery process.
I will have to begin this chapter by mentioning my mother. I have never been a mum myself so I have no idea about maternal affection or responsibilities. However, I am pretty certain that motherhood is the greatest yet hardest job anyone can have. Without my mum I don’t think I will be writing this blog right now.
April 2012 was when I found out about TMD and I told my mum about it. Fortunately, she did not doubt it once and said to me “From looking at the symptoms I think you are right, you just need to find the right treatment”. However, I thought she was just saying it to comfort me and trying to not cause an argument as she was busy with work. So I never mentioned it again and carried out research on my own and found that there are various self treatments such as facial massage, stretching exercise to relieve muscle tension and meditation to reduce stress and anxiety. I also went for sports massage therapy some weekends which I found more helpful than physios. Whilst they were helpful, I had to repeat them everyday but working full time and studying at the same time, I was becoming worn out. I was fixated on the idea that I could get better by trying self therapies but as time went by I became more depressed by the fact that I could not resolve it myself. I guess I only have myself to blame for my own arrogance but it was also due to the fact that I did not want to go through a battle with the NHS which I was almost certain would make me depressed even more. My mother became more concerned that I was becoming more obsessed on trying different therapies.
I finally gave in and went to the GP in March 2013, with a long list of TMD symptoms that I was experiencing. He did not seem to be very familiar with the condition and told me to come back a week after so he can give me a clearer answer. A week later, I went back to the GP who completely ruled out TMD as a cause and instead he suspected that I had arthritis… The undesirable yet expected result made me so angry but I had to restrict myself from shouting at him because I knew whatever I could have said was not going to be heard as he was the doctor and I was just an ordinary person with limited medical knowledge. I immediately sensed that arguing would not resolve anything and left. Two days later, I had to resort to going to a private dentist (which was costly) and finally, I was diagnosed with TMD. After the consultation I decided to go ahead with treatment using a dental splint. At this point, I took a further 3 months off work because the pain was unbearable and I was mentally unstable. The splint which was initially meant to take a week to fabricate, took 3 weeks. It felt more like 3 years as patience was running out and I wondered why luck was never on my side.
Anyway, at last, I was given a device that could relieve pain that had tortured me for so long but I was warned that is not effective on all people. I was told that I could use it for up to a year and was recommended to wear it at night but also during the day if I wished. The first few weeks of wearing the splint I certainly did notice slight improvements – less headache, neck and shoulder pains and improved digestion. I was so excited that I was going to be “normal” and that it was just a matter of time before the splint was going to sort me out.
During the 3 months leave, my mum tried to convince me not to just rely on the dental splints but to try medical practices that specialise in treating TMD. To my surprise, she had done her own research since I had told her the year before and gave me a list of practices she found and thought may be worth trying. She pointed out Dr Youngjun Lee’s clinic in South Korea and said it has the most testimonials as well as video cases so she suggested getting treatment there. I had also come across it whilst doing my own research. However, I trusted that the dental splint was going to fix my jaw and decided to concentrate on my exams I was sitting in July.
I did not think much of it at the time but a few more weeks later, the splint broke in half and I had to get it repaired.
Whilst enjoying freedom from some of the symptoms I also started feeling unfamiliar sensations – sudden spasms in my limbs. They were not painful nor were they serious at first so I ignored them and took it as signs of getting better. I then took my sister, who had very similar symptoms as me and was still making routinely visits to the GP, to the same dentists from where she was also given a dental splint. At the same time however, the frequency and severity of spasms (these spasms were just sensations rather than visible movements) were increasing and more strange things cropped up. As time went by, I started experiencing vertigo (similar to dizziness but more severe), vomiting and blurred vision. Often, walking was difficult because it felt like the floor was moving around and lack of productivity at work was making me feel down even more. The life I was living was completely different to what I had imagined a few months back. By September 2013, the strange muscle movements reached the jaw area and became permanent. It was then that I finally realised there was something seriously wrong.
All of a sudden, I was getting panic attacks, hypertension and sometimes difficulty breathing. Anxiety, together with depression had reached an intolerable level. It was really difficult to explain to other people that I had strange movements of the muscles because it was not visible to other people. I still went to the GP again but all I could receive was yet more prescriptions for painkillers and antidepressants with advice to rest at home.
At one point, my mother called the accident and emergency unit crying after seeing me go through a panic attack which almost led me to faint. She told them about diagnosis of TMD and that she suspects current symptoms are linked. As predicted, they ruled it out and said it only affects the jaw joints so it has nothing to do with what I was going through. However, they still kindly took me to the hospital because the condition was quite serious. Lying on the hospital bed, I waited a few hours to see the doctor during which the panic attack and muscle spasms seemed to have died down a little. When the doctor saw me, she said the symptoms appear stress related and gave me more painkillers. I timidly mentioned TMD and although she was sceptic, she advised me to see a specialist before discharging me.
I was so lost because I had already been to a specialist and things had just turned out worse. By this time, I was sick of painkillers and just wanted someone to tell me what went wrong. As the clock ticked away, it felt like I was falling into a great black hole of death. It is a feeling that only sufferers could possibly understand the extent of.
In 2009, after my second year of university, I was lucky enough to secure a summer internship at a bank where I worked full time for 2 months. Not long after I started working, the nagging symptoms began to haunt me one by one and gradually became serious. To name a few, I had constant, severe pain in my neck and shoulders, indigestion, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, dry and tired eyes, headache and a numb feeling of the face. It almost seemed as though they were competing to see who could torture me most and none of them wanted to lose out. When someone asked me how I was feeling, my answer always included the word “Tired”, some people even came up to me and said I looked knackered. Personal life after work was unthinkable because I needed to spend the evening resting to be able to cope the next day. The weekends were mostly spent on trying new therapies to help relieve the symptoms which included chiropractics, acupuncture, yoga and sports massage therapy. They were useful but sadly, the effects were only temporary.
After graduating university in 2010, I managed to get a job in an accounting firm and started working as an auditor. Due to the nature of the job, most of my working days required travelling, working long hours and studying in the evening. The first few months were manageable but as time went by it became more difficult to cope. Without invitation, new guests joined the list of symptoms – dizziness, numbness in my hands and fingers as well as abdominal pain. They started to attack my psychological state too. I became depressed and easily stressed.
I made regular trips to the doctors and each meeting comprised of a different theme – one consultation would be on headache, a few weeks after it would be on abdominal pain and so on. After every visit, I would come back with prescribed drugs such as pain killers, tablets to enhance digestion and antidepressants. Unfortunately, they didn’t make the symptoms go away completely.
I even took 3 months off work in 2012, to try different treatments abroad which seemed to be more helpful at first but again the effects were not long lasting. Towards the end of the 3 month treatment, I heard the practitioner murmur “I wonder if this is TMD…” admitting that the treatment might not have benefited me. When I came back to the UK, I remembered what she said and decided to do some research. I found a website which provided quite a long list of possible TMD symptoms and slowly going down the list, I realised I ticked almost all the boxes. I probably had the biggest eureka moment of my life! – Finally! I had found out what it was, a monster called Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD). All the pieces came together and everything made sense. After a few moments of excitement however, that feeling turned to futility and almost led to anger. Why did nobody tell me? For 15 years I had been searching for clues as to why, no matter how hard I tried to overcome it, I always felt tired and constantly felt pain? Why couldn’t I do what others did – juggle work, socialize, personal life and physical exercise? Why did I have such a short temper and not help but be so impatient? Why would I have to spend 3 hours on work/study which only took others roughly 30 minutes to do?
I had to meditate for a while to calm myself down. I then realised how grateful I should be for at least finding out what the real cause is. All I needed to do now, was find the treatment. However, at this point I was unaware that this was only the beginning of a new battle.
I was probably around 8 years old. I was rather a quiet girl most of the time but when my cousins were around I turned wild, going on ventures and causing trouble (unintentionally of course!). I’m unsure when it began exactly but I started feeling discomfort around my eyes and facial area and slowly it became more difficult to see what was written on the board in class. A year later, I went to the opticians and following an eyesight test, I was given a pair of glasses. Soon after that I started experiencing changes in my facial shape and within the space of 6 months I almost looked like a totally different person.
There were other changes that I noticed such as a decrease in concentration, having pains in the neck and the shoulders and constantly feeling tired even after a full night’s sleep. I would wake up in the morning and my mother would ask me if I had a been able to get a good night’s sleep because I was grinding my teeth so badly. These symptoms were not so serious but increasing in frequency and eventually became things that I just got used to. Living with discomfort, I was easily irritated and gradually became a short tempered and impatient person.
When I was 14, I began orthodontic treatment (with 4 tooth extractions due to the size of my teeth) which lasted 2 years. I believe this was the beginning of my unhappy life. Discomfort turned to pain and other symptoms began to appear which deteriorated very quickly. Often, I experienced muscle tension around the face, headaches were unbearable from time to time and discomfort around the neck and shoulder area became permanent. Focusing at school was almost impossible and day dreaming became a habit. I became an introverted person at school, even hanging around with friends was not something that I enjoyed and slowly I started to view life in a different way.
Sadly, I thought all the things I was experiencing were what every teenager went through and that impatience and over sensitiveness were part of my personality.
Fortunately, I started break-dancing at 17 years old which allowed me to become a livelier person. Although the pains and discomfort did not go away, I felt better mentally as dancing was something I enjoyed doing. I briefly thought of doing it professionally but gave up as the pains were restricting me from doing certain moves. During university, I joined the break-dancing society which allowed me to enjoy the 3 years and also help me pull through stressful times.
It was only last year, at the age of 23, when I found out that the various not-so-serious but nagging symptoms that I experienced since early stages of my life were ultimately symptoms of chronic TMD (Temporomandibular joint Dysfunction).
Dura mater spinalis passes through the spine which is positioned between the cranium and sacrum. Spinal dural tension may cause pain and muscle tension and restriction of cerebrospinal fluid circulation. Spine Balancer aims to resolve spinal dural tension and rearrange the spine into an ideal position based on the principles of the lever (lump shaped surface of the device) and principles of gravity (weight of the body) which allows the user to enjoy the effects by simply lying on the device.
If Spine Balancer is used together with CST Pillow greater results can be experienced as it allows enhancement of posture and relief of muscle, ligament and fascia tension from the neck and shoulders down to the lower part of the spine.
PBT is a pelvic adjustment technique developed by Dr. Lee, based on but further improved from the principles of SOT.
SOT is an alternative medicine technique which is helpful in recovering the normal circulation of cerebrospinal fluid and the normal structure of the spine by normalizing the function of cranial motion and sacroiliac joint under the principles of primary respiratory mechanism, gravitational force from the body weight and leverage over the fulcrum of SOT blocks, all of which effect may be enjoyed by just lying on your front on the blocks. A balanced pelvis allows the muscles around the pelvic limbs to have the same strength and also leads to Sacro-Occipital treatment effect.
Related patents National patent (Republic of Korea) : Patent No. 08-0050546 USA patent : US 12/364,424
CranioSacral Therapy is a form of bodywork or alternative therapy focused primarily on the concept of “primary respiration” and regulating the flow of cerebrospinal fluid by using therapeutic touch to manipulate the synarthrodial joints of the cranium. It was developed by John Upledger, D.O. in the 1970s, and is loosely based on osteopathy in the cranial field (OCF). The therapy aims to resolve sutural jamming by applying pressure on skull, face, spine and pelvis.
This therapy is offered at the clinic using a pillow rather than direct treatment from a practitioner. The advantage of this is that patients can use it for as long as they like. The pillow allows patients to benefit from CV4 and CRI techniques which are effective in accelerating the circulation of cerebrospinal fluid, strengthening the function of cranial nerves and relieving chronic tension in the stressed sympathetic nervous system.
International patent: Patent-2008-0050540 National patent (Republic of Korea): Patent No, 10-0926484 Design patent: patent number 3020100000667 Registered trademark: 4020090051706
Generally, acupuncture is known to be effective in stimulating the nervous system and causing the release of neurochemical messenger molecules. The consequent biochemical changes affect the body’s homeostatic mechanisms and promote natural healing of physical and emotional deficiency.
With over 30 years experience in acupuncture, Dr Lee typically focuses on two acupuncture techniques – C fiber and YinYang balance. C fibers are found in the nerves of the somatic sensory system. If the C fibers are damaged the related muscles, ligaments, tendons and fascias can over tense or relax which may cause pain. The C fiber acupuncture technique allows recovery of damaged C fiber function. The YinYang balance acupuncture technique helps to regain the left/right, front/back body balance using the Conception and Governing vessel as basis.