I have written about this topic before. You can find my two previous posts here (1) and here (2). In this little series I tried to keep a little bit of a diary/share my personal experiences along my journey with this (for me new) therapy. Now it is time for my (probably) last blogpost.
To make a long story short: I have quit this therapy early. I just could not work with this therapist. He would not respect my boundaries/physical limits, mostly regarding pain. My body is extremely high sensitive to pain and I need to be very careful with everything that I do. Because I also recover much more slowly from pain and I am more easily damaged. With this therapy I got ‘massages’ to make my jaw and neck muscles relax more. But these were extremely painful and I would be sick (flu like symptoms), having extreme neck pain and headache (and being unable to move my neck) for at least a week. This is an extreme response, so please don’t be frightened if you’re going to try this therapy. This kind of extreme response is not good for your body, the therapist even agreed to that. Every time we would make agreements on how soft his touch should be and that he had to stop if I or my companion (usually my partner a.k.a. fellow Hippo) asked him to stop or be more gentle, because it was hurting too much. But every time he would not listen to it and I have tried it multiple times with different people as my companion (and the goal was that I would be able to go alone but that went very wrong when I tried that). I have tried to talk to him and talk to his secretary and write it in an email and it would not do anything. I finally came to the point where I realised I had to listen to my body and protect my boundaries and that I had to quit. He would not accept that, but I eventually cancelled my last appointment and never made new one again. Like I said, I don’t expect you to have this same experience and I don’t want to discourage you. I will try to point out the positive and negative points I experienced with this therapy.
[Photo of a physical therapist turning a patient’s head]
+ It is a combination of exercises, which you can do yourself as soon as you learned them, and of the therapist ‘massaging’ you. This is a positive point for me, because just doing the exercises did not work well enough, but the combination works a lot better (which I’ve experienced with other kinds of physical therapy as well).
+ You can do the exercises at home, so this will save you appointments. This might also be a negative. I, for example, find it difficult to do my exercises at home. But I am willing to go to the gym/therapist every evening. But maybe I am just a bit crazy that way.
+ It might not only help against the pain in your jaws, but it might also relieve headaches, ear pain, neck and shoulder pain and even back pain. My therapist also moved from primarily treating my jaws to primarily treating my neck after a couple sessions. Most therapists who give jaw therapy are also specialised in back and neck problems, so you don’t have to switch to yet another one, which I prefer.
– It can be quite a painful therapy, because they will put a lot of pressure on muscles that are already hurting.
– The therapist has to touch you. This was frightening for me, even though I did not take off my T-shirt and he never went inside my mouth (which might be necessary, this depends on your physical complaints). I was always chitchatting with him during therapy so that helped.
– It is normal to have extra pain or soreness and stiffness, tiredness etc. for up to 2 days after the the therapy. This is something you might have to take into consideration for when you schedule your therapy. This also depends on how the condition of your body is before the therapy, but I could not do anything for about seven days every time.
Personal conclusion/evaluation: I have the feeling that my neck problems have been worsened by this therapy (because he did it way too much and too hard). It does go a little bit better with my jaws, although it didn’t do anything against the grinding of my teeth have it when I sleep. I had hoped I would have slightly better results, especially because my neck problems are quite terrible now. And my anxiety has become worse, because he did not respect my boundaries and did not listen to me. I do think this can be a useful therapy and it is worth a try. But I would strongly advice you to listen carefully to your body and see if you have a match with your therapist. I have also heard more positive experiences than mine, so I hope your experience will be better. I don’t think I will try this therapy again, because it is just not made or my kind of body with chronic illnesses. Maybe I will try it again if I am able to find a female therapist, because they usually understand a bit better how much strength they actually have.
For now, I will keep wearing my splint at night and keep paying attention on relaxing my jaws during the day.