The Correlation of ACL Tears, TMD, and Breathing.

I know what you’re probably thinking﹘ how could your knee possibly have a connection to your jaw? I’ll be the first to admit that I too was a skeptic when I was first exposed to the mysterious connections in the body.


My Lightbulb Moment. When I was first learning about Autonomic Motor Nerve Reflex Testing (AMNRT), I heard a statistic that stood out to me. While speaking to our group, Dr. Steven Olmos stated that TMD is five to eight times more common in girls than in boys. I immediately made a connection﹘ anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears (in the knee) are five to eight times more common in girls than in boys. I wondered if there might be a connection.


Back to Basics. First let’s go over these two parts of the body. Your anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, is located in your knee and is one of the ligaments that helps stabilize the joint. This important ligament connects your thighbone (femur) to your shinbone (tibia) and is commonly injured while playing sports that involve sudden stops, jumps, or changes in direction — such as basketball, soccer, or tennis.


The temporomandibular joint (TMJ), or jaw joint, is located on each side of your face, just in front of your ears. When the TMJ is irritated, it is called temporomandibular joint dysfunction or disorder (TMD). This condition is commonly referred to as TMJ, though that is simply the abbreviation for the name of the joint involved. There are many reasons for TMD, including

obstructed nasal breathing, sleep apnea, bruxism (grinding your teeth while sleeping), and trauma.


A Case for the Connection. Many of my patients who come to me for knee injuries end up having TMD as well. This condition affects a person’s ability to balance, making them more susceptible to knee injuries.


One of my patients, John, is in his late fifties and loves playing sports. He is a great example of the breathing aspect of TMD and how it affects your chances of knee injuries. I first met him when he was in his late thirties, after he tore his ACL playing rugby. Soon after, he injured the same knee again, tearing his meniscus this time. Then, he tore the ACL in his other knee!


After learning about AMNRT, I tested John’s reflexes and found that he had persistent back discomfort and weakness in his right leg. He’d broken his nose so many times throughout his life that his breathing was now constantly obstructed (one of the major causes of TMD). He only had about a 5 percent capacity to breathe through his nasal passages. After undergoing nasal surgery, his back pain disappeared, and his balance and strength returned.


My Patients are the Proof. Most days, I’m still in awe of the connections I see in my patients. The way the body works as a unit is amazing. I’m grateful for the opportunity to treat knee injuries and diagnose TMD. Doing so, prevents further knee injuries in my patients, helping them regain balance and strength. If you have suffered a knee injury or have exhibited any of the symptoms of TMD or sleep apnea, set up an appointment. I’ll work with you to find the source and get you feeling better for good!