TMJ and Acupuncture

TMJ and Acupuncture

What is TMJ/TMD?

TMJ stands for Temporomandibular Joint.  The actual disorders associated with this joint are more appropriately termed TMD and refer to issues in the muscles and bones around the jaw.  Often patients report pain, clicking, lock jaw, headaches, and neck pain associated with TMJ dysfunction.

What causes TMJ/TMD?

The patient might have a history of clenching or grinding their teeth or inflammation in the joint itself.  This could be from an injury in the area or chronic muscle tightness in the neck that affects the jaw. Dental work can also contribute to TMJ pain.  The patient may feel jaw pain following a root canal, implant work, wisdom teeth extraction, amalgam removal etc.  Other possible issues that can contribute to or exacerbate pain in the jaw are fibromyalgia, stress, systemic imbalances, and sinus problems.

What can I do to relieve TMJ/TMD pain?Acupuncture can work wonders!

We look at patterns in the body and use needles and/or massage to open the channels and bring balance to the affected area.  Acupuncture helps to move qi and blood thereby reducing inflammation, increasing circulation and relieving pain.  Other specialists can help in conjunction with acupuncture such as chiropractors and physical therapists. We recommend seeking practitioners who look at the body as a whole to identify stress/injury patterns. Please ask for referrals if needed!

Case Study

A 48 year old male presents with TMJ pain after having several amalgams replaced by his dentist.  He was experiencing acute pain in his jaw accompanied by neck and shoulder pain, headaches, and sinus congestion. The range of motion in his jaw was limited. He had a chiropractic treatment to address the alignment and spacing in the jaw area and felt that after being adjusted, the pain remained and the range of motion had not improved. He had also tried physical therapy and diligently did the recommended stretches and strengthening exercises.  With this treatment, he felt some improvement but the issue was still unresolved.  The patient had been dealing with high levels of work-related stress for the past 6 months.

Outcome: After 6 acupuncture treatments, the TMJ pain had completely resolved and the range of motion returned to normal. The patient reported improved sleep as well!

The practitioner focused on opening circulation in the face and jaw area.  Reducing stress and rebalancing the channels was also a major component of the treatment plan.  His high levels of stress were causing an underlying holding and tightening in the body and face that was preventing the release of pain. The chiropractic treatment addressed the misalignment of the jaw. Physical therapy worked to strengthen and balance the muscles in the face area. Acupuncture addressed the stress patterns so the body was able to relax and release the tension.

written by Iris Martin