Tuesday, July 8, 2014

JAWS – Not the movie

Life is a journey of self-discovery. We might have some limiting issues, but we can usually get around many of them with mobility aids, a regular exercise program, and maintaining a positive attitude.

The other day I was asked a question about jaw problems and Kennedy’s Disease..

“I wonder if you know whether other KD men have experienced problems with jaw alignment? My cousin, who also has Kennedy’s Disease, is having great difficulty eating. He has found it necessary to eat mainly smoothies, since he cannot chew very well.

I suggested he discuss it with his doctors and make sure it was not something else. We tend to blame too much on our condition in part because we can have such different acute symptoms.”
Yes, I have that problem. For me, it started many years ago. It can be very painful and often the only way you can reduce the pain is to push the lower jaw back into its joint. About 15 years ago the pain was bad enough that I had to support my jaw with my palm while eating.

I began an exercise program to help restore the jaw muscle’s strength and it has helped immensely. Nevertheless, it hasn't eliminated the problem entirely.

Something else I found that helps is supporting my jaw when sleeping.

Today, I eat steak, nuts, most anything, including bagels. However, I take smaller bites and chew with an awareness of what I am eating.

“Are those exercises part of the ones you have posted on the KD site or in your recent exercise blogs?”
Yes, some of them are. I do so many exercises these days that I have to think about what is posted and in the guides.

Does he have to hold his jaw in place so it doesn't pop out?

“Yes, even when he is talking.”
Well, everyone is different, and what might help me might not help your cousin. Have him try the following to see if it eases some of the problems:
1. Being aware of when it might happen.
2. Using a pillow for support of the jaw at night.
3. Not eating hard, difficult to chew, foods like bagels, for example.
4. Moving the jaw back and forth exercises the muscles holding it in place.
5. Performing exaggerated winks, and holding them for a count of 3, before moving to the other eye. I do ten winks of each eye at a time, several times a day.

A physical therapist is best qualified to help with this problem. Your cousin’s doctor can recommend one.

How about you? Have you experienced problems with your jaw muscles? What has worked for you to help minimize the issues of dealing with this problem?

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