August 2016 update:
This Blog post has been shared tens of thousands of times with views in the hundreds of thousands. I have received thousands of e-mails from all over the world concerning the content. While I appreciate comments and questions are welcome, please understand that I don't answer specific treatment questions. Consultation time is available via Skype at an hourly rate. All of us have questions regarding our conditions and treatment and even issues during treatment. All of us present or "come to the table" with different compensations and compounding issues that make solutions, bio-hacks and priorities different for each person. The genius behind effective treatment in the realm of cranio-facial change is knowing when and what to do to "allow" for change. That will look different for each individual.
If you had told me 12 years ago that the severe migraines I was having could be "cured" in two weeks, I am not sure I would have believed you.
The headaches were debilitating. The only thing that helped was a dark room....for 3 days. At the time, we had just moved from my lifelong home of The Mississippi Gulf Coast with our 5 children, ages 9 to 1. I was an "unschooling" "home birthing" "crunchy mama" and dentists wife who cooked from scratch, ate organic and certainly did not use Fluoride!! I wasn't about to take a Migraine medication. I was baffled that someone who could have 5 natural births, would have such pain in my shoulder neck and head.
Over the 10 years, I'd learned the triggers; Stress, low blood sugar, lifting anything heavier than the baby, and crying. So, I avoided crying, at all costs. Still, PMS and 'hormones' triggered a 3 day darkness binge. My 'syndrome' of factors would have probably gotten me offers of anti-depressants and other meds. What physician really knows what to do with a symptom list like this:
I tried natural hormone replacement therapy, weight lifting to help with the muscle imbalances, dietary changes (gluten free, sugar free, dairy free) and specific carbohydrate diet.. Nothing seemed to help. One day, I looked at my dear husband and said "Do. Some. Thing. I am so miserable."
It's well documented among health care professionals that they prefer not to treat their own family! I respected him as a practitioner and as it turns out, he could not formulate a plan for me, the person he loved, and take the chance that it may not work. However, what we would learn about the co-factors in my 'syndrome' would change not only my life, but his practice.
I pulled up my tenacity, and got on with the business of finding some answers.
First stop was the Chiropractor. He was great! Adjustments did not relieve me of my headaches but at least he had the opportunity of diagnosing me with Fibromyalgia. This was really eyeopening since I was not aware that my trigger points were active and that I was experiencing low level pain constantly. Apparently, I am a type that does not perceive pain in such a way as to recognize or perceive a problem until the damage is done.
Next stop was a TMJ expert. Certainly my Temporomandibular Joint could be part of this problem? Right?
The take home message from this stop was that I had actually 'shrunk' my life to fit my low activity tolerance. In other words, I was doing less and less so as to not trigger a migraine! I had compensated by reducing my expenditure so as not to suffer a headache. He 'treated' my TMJ but I received no relief from my headaches. Thousands of dollars later, I was still in pain.
After my initial TMJ 'treatment' I was left in the unexpected place of requiring orthodontics....again. I had 'ortho' prior at age 15.
At age 12, my orthodontist wanted to "pull 4 teeth because my mouth was not big enough." Fortunately, my parents were unable to afford ortho at that time and by the time they could afford it my "mouth had grown" so the teeth were not pulled. I was placed in retractive headgear to correct the 'overbite' and placed in retainers 11 mos later.
So my current orthodontist put me in braces after the TMJ treatment at my request because I wanted to "just look good while I died." This was a drama filled statement, but truthful! I was still having headaches and really didn't believe I would ever truly feel good.
My orthodontist was very clear "Correct that swallow or I will not be able to get your teeth to come together in the front!" I did not realize how much my bite had opened since I was 15 years old!
Fortunately, my Dr. understood Myofunctional Disorders and correctly diagnosed me with a "Tongue Thrust". This was the very first time I had heard of such a thing and could not imagine why even my TMJ Dr. had not spoken to me of the need for exercises that would help me.
Down the Continuing education Rabbithole
A Few short months after his diagnosis, I found myself in my first comprehensive Oral Myology course. With a bachelors in nursing and extensive experience and Continuing Education in dentistry, I had the right background to be able to take the course. That decision was made easier by the fact that the closest Myofunctional Therapists were 3 and 6 hours away.
Right after beginning Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy exercises, my headaches stopped. I even TRIED to give myself a headache and I couldn't. The feeling of being headache free was nothing short of miraculous.
Exercises were easy and painless, plus the changes came quickly. I was neurologically repatterning muscle movements that had been in place all of my life. My Myologist also added Buteyko Breathing to my treatment to help retraining my breath.
The combination of correct oral rest posture, correct muscle use in swallow and the regulation of my breathing was literally life changing. Energy improved, I began to relax, I felt more in control and could calm myself much easier when stressed. Life improved.
If my sweet Mom had only known...
The last piece of the puzzle
While Myofunctional Therapy cleared the 3 day Migraines, I still did not feel fully relaxed in the shoulders and back. Knots in my trapezius muscles were still common. I still saw my chiropractor regularly and I still worked very hard to maintain a good Oral Rest Posture, with my tongue to the palate. But I was so thankful to be able to fully function, I did not focus on the residual issues. The Fibromyalgia cleared after starting Buteyko Breathing as well.
Since my journey so far had been one of very good fortune, I was not at all surprised at what happened next.
At an Advanced Myofunctional Therapy course I met a physical therapist who gave me the final piece of my 'puzzle'.
I had obtained great strength and range of motion with my tongue and learned to activate and strengthen the muscles of my neck (which probably explains why my symptoms improved....I was now sleeping and breathing better!).
The PT confirmed that I had a Posterior Tongue Tie.
It was demonstrated to me the connection of Tongue Tie to my headaches via a simple screening assessment. She showed me how the congenital over attachment of tissue under the tongue connected to my hyoid bone, my upper cervical spine (C1 and C2) and then to my cranial Dura (the connective tissue surrounding the brain).
These C1 and C2 areas were always "out" at Chiropractic adjustment. Another area that was extremely painful to adjust was the Thoracic spine. There was a 'twist' there that literally put me in tears when adjusted. The Right Scapula was always the beginning of the trigger point chain that started the Migraine activation sequence. Once that Right rhomboid activated, it was just a matter of time before the impulses ran up the trigger point chain; R rhomboid, R trapezius, R occipital lobe, R temporalis and then the R eye. Then....good night for 3 days. No medication touched that pain.
My Chiropractor used a cranial technique called "CATS" or "Cranial Adjusting Turner Style". This is a powerful tool based in Osteopathic manipulation that aligns the cranial joints or 'sutures'. My cranial birth trauma followed me for years, apparently impacting my nervous system. These cranial adjusting treatments felt wonderful and the relaxation in my nervous system was palpable. I contribute CATS with a large part of the amazing cranial dimension results seen in my "after" pictures.
Most people are aware of a "Tongue Tie" that is complete and restricts the tongue completely, even to the tip so that one cannot stick out their tongue. But did you know that one can be "tied" and be able to stick out the tongue really far? It's true. The connection lies deep in the floor of the mouth.
Doctor is now able to confidently treat
Steve had been thrilled with all of my research, efforts and education. He was happy to help me go back to school, launch a new career in Myofunctional Therapy and learn along side me. For 20 years, he had released Lingual ties of all types with scalpel and now was using laser. Releasing the posterior in an adult is not something taught to practitioners and can be tricky. He had learned post graduate and was very skilled so I was excited about the process.
After the course, he released my Posterior Tie with his Diode Laser. I'll write more about that in another post. The process was nothing short of phenomenal and life changing. Basically, the results were:
Don't short circuit the process
Many people today are hearing of the issues related to Tongue Tie and in particular Posterior Tongue Tie. They are getting frenectomies to help with most of the issues that I struggled with.
I am SO GLAD that I did not get a frenectomy without the Myofunctional Therapy. I would have missed out on so many other health benefits had I not addressed the full scope of my Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders.
The suffering I went through was difficult, but I learned so much. It has empowered me to help others in a very holistic way. My journey has allowed me to help many women who suffer from the same symptoms I did....and get results.
Thank you for reading. It was a long story, a long process and I hope that my story inspires you to seek answers to your health dilemmas.
These photos were taken about two years apart. Here are my results.
Photos are Copyrighted and not to be used apart from this Site.
The "After" photo shows some eyelash from the left side of the face, which is not desirable for comparison. However, the chin is the focal point here. Before there was a 'sag' indicating low tongue rest posture. In the After photo the tongue is up in the palate and the neck is tone. Lips have become more balanced and again the eyelid has changed.
This is my personal story and experience with diagnosing Oral Dysfunction and Normalizing Oral Function. I hope to share in the future more specifics on how this journey created a career, changed Steve's practice and helped my children in numerous ways.
Special Thanks to Karen Samuelson, RDH, COM. She taught the first Comprehensive Oral Myology course I took.
Thank you for Joy Lea Moeller, RDH, OMT and the AOMT, who provided subsequent learning opportunities.
Much appreciation to my Chiropractor, Dr. Robin Henderson at Greenleaf Chiropractic.