Vitamin Junkeys

Osteopathy Assessment, What to Expect Ep 15

Osteopathic Therapy Demonstration
Vitamin Junkeys Episode #15 (running time 9:03)
Date: September 2, 2008
Podsafe Music: Ice Cream by Christopher Dale Courtesy of the Podshow Music Network
Show hosts: Jennifer Lyall & Dr. Jean Jacques (Dr. JJ) Dugoua, ND HBSc PhD (Cand.)
Special guest: Laura Disenhaus, Physiotherapist and Osteopathic Manual Practitioner

This episode examines:
What to expect in an appointment with an Osteopathic practitioner.
The assessment that would take place for someone with a Temporal-mandibular Joint (TMJ) problems (also known as TMD).
Note: This episode does not cover any treatments for TMJ issues

In this episode, Physiotherapist and Osteopathic Manual Practitioner demonstrates what may happen at a typical initial appointment with a osteopathic practitioner.

If someone came to see an osteopathic practitioner with TMJ or jaw problems (like clenching teeth), the practitioner would begin the exam by looking at the patient's posture, how they walk, and how they perform in some mechanical ability tests to see how well their spine moves. (There are a number of things the practitioner would examine first before getting to the part of the examination that will be shown in this episode.)

A big part of osteopathy is cranial therapy, where the practitioner will look at the mobility of the cranial bones because there are microns of movement that still exist. Although a lot of people in the medical community talk about the sutures in the cranium being fused, there still is some mobility and that has been proven on some tests. For example, the cranium has to expand to accommodate fluid changes in the body.

One of the first things a practitioner would do is put her hands on the patient's head and feel for certain movements that are consistent among individuals. When there is less or more movement in these areas, then that gives the practitioner information for the assessment. Jennifer did not have a lot of movement in the bones that form her inner ear and house the jaw joint. Then Laura felt around to see how tight the muscles are around the joint. Jennifer was tight. Laura looked at the mobility around the temporalis muscle and some of the other muscles around the jaw.

Laura then examined Jennifer's mouth, along the upper teeth and evaluate the upper palette and how that moves. She also looked at some of the muscles along the inside of the cheek and other muscles in the mouth, to see if they were tight. Laura looked for tenderness in the muscles, to help with her evaluation.

The next step in the assessment, Laura put her finger in Jennifer's ear to hold the bone that houses the joint, and put her thumb along the lower teeth to see how well the joint can move, testing the accessory muscles. Laura's looking at how well she can move the mandible,
which is the lower jaw, in each direction (down, up left and right). An osteopathic practitioner would do this on both si des to assess what it is that she needs to release, and to also prioritize what to release first. The area that is the tightest is what the Laura would typically release first. She wants to make sure all of the bio-mechanical structures have their normal range of motion.

Another part of the exam involves looking at how well the sacral bone moves and is placed. The positioning of the sacral bone gives the practitioner a lot of information, for example, it may be pulled off to one side, which has compounding effects on the rest of your body. The osteopathic practitioner would feeling for the gapping of the sacrilliatic joints in the back to see if it changes your sacram.

She can feel the spine and see if there are other structures that are tight. Some of the issues in this area can impact your jaw. The jaw joints works in synchrony with your hip joints. There is an analogous relationship in terms of the anatomy and the bio-mechanics. Your whole spine can affect the jaw. Having a problem with your jaw is similar to having a disc problem. The jaw problem is likely the accumulation of a series of events, and usually not the root of the issue. You can have a lot of things in your spine that can get tight, your posture and emotional tension can put a lot of muscles under strain... there are a series of issues that come about and then the jaw gets tight and people start to clench their teeth, and may get pain when they are eating. That's how jaw problems or TMJ comes about.

The treatment isn't simple. You need to look at all of the issues and work on your body as a whole. It is a holistic, whole body approach.

Go to and click on a Find a Practitioner link to find an osteopathic practitioner in your community.

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Camera: Jerome Marrin, Jerome Marrin Media Productions
Lighting & Sound: Nelson Bettencourt, Got It Media 

Editor: Jerome Marrin, Jerome Marrin Media Productions

Special thanks to: Slurp Media &


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Join Jennifer Lyall and Naturopath, Dr. JJ Dugoua as they have fun exploring alternative therapies and healthy living. Weekly episodes are released every Tuesday.

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