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The Jaw

The treatment of the jaw or temporomandibular joint is another little-known branch of physiotherapy. Indeed, when our jaw hurts, we tend to contact a dentist or doctor. In physiotherapy, we treat pain related to muscle imbalance .

A little anatomy to better understand the jaw:

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a diarthrosis, meaning it is a joint that has a meniscus (articular disk) and a shell which surrounds the joint, called capsule. The right TMJ must work properly to allow the left side to work as well (they work in synergy). Otherwise, you would have your mouth that opening sideways and not close properly to be able to eat.

Furthermore, this joint is very strong due to its biomechanical attributes.The strength of the human jaws varies from 132lbs to 275 Lbs. Yet the muscles that controls are very small.


Here’s a little homegrown story recounting this feature:
Landry “The Jaw”:


source : http://freepages.history.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~mwl1943/images/machoire.jpg

He worked alongside Buffalo Bill, develop many feats and gave thousands of shows…but it is his jaw that made him famous. Prudent Landry, the king of the jaw, raised flour bags of 45 kg (100 pounds) when he was only five years old. His grandfather, David, wanted him to be one day stronger than Louis Cyr. Gifted with unusual strength, however, was recognized quickly that his jaw was even more extraordinary. At 13, he raised from the ground, with his teeth, a barrel of 408 kg (900 pounds). Prudent blazed with Cyr, Lambert, Barre Cloutier, Décarie and as he grew older, he envied less and less these supermen he adored, being himself world champion in the jaw after lifting with his teeth a weight of 872 kg (1923 pounds). The international road then opened and Lou Dufour engaged him in his circus to tour the United States. Going from challenge to challenge, he even one day  faced Kelso the giant, a “little” man of 282 kg (623 pounds) and won the challenge and the love of all the spectators by lifting 2037 kg (4492 pounds) with his jaw! That was in 1906. Before joining Barnum and Baily’s circus, Prudent teamed with Buffalo Bill and The Flossy La Blanche to train for a year and form the “Big Landry trio”. Other tours led him in 1928 in Germany and Russia. In 1930 he began his public life in the Saguenay region. Several families in this region still have the memory of his exploits, a horseshoe or an iron bar he was amused to fold with his teeth. Indeed, when Landry broke a horseshoe the blacksmith Ulisse Larouche had treated (to make and twice as strong) his reputation went around the township like wildfire. Whether it was to raise 18 men with his sole jaw, or a pool table on which were seated two big Alma men, Landry had no equal and no weight resisted his magic jaws. In a show at the theater in Alma, three men failed to turn an ax handle he was holding firmly between his teeth. He repeated the feat in St. Jerome while one of the three men was Victor Delamarre.

St-Laurent, Guy. (L’Almanach Jupiter des records et des exploits du Québec., Québec, 1984, page 187.) (Free transalation)

Article original, Jean-Claude Larouche, le revue Saguenayensia, avril-juin 1981.


Conditions that can be treated in physiotherapy:

  • Hypomobility of the jaw (the mouth doesn’t open big enough)
  • Instability of the jaw (clicking of the jaw or subluxations of the jaw)
  • Disc displacement (the jaw blocks open or doesn’t open anymore – with or without the ability to reverse it)
  • Muscular syndromes (pain with mastication or when talking)