TMJ is caused by a variety of things, including muscle tension (teeth grinding or bruxism), anatomical problems, and injury. In some cases, there might be a psychological component from someone constantly clenching their jaw during periods of emotional tension, intense determination, or desperation. Most people are completely unaware that these muscles can remain contracted for a long time.
Over time and repetition, symptoms can include anything from severe headaches, neck or shoulder pain, earaches or dizziness, pain while chewing or opening your mouth.
The good news is that those suffering from TMJ can find relief in acupuncture treatment. Acupuncture can be extremely helpful in treating the inflammation, pain, and tension commonly associated with this condition. Patients with acute pain can experience instant relief in only a few treatments, with more chronic TMJ conditions needing treatments over several weeks.
Many people are already knowledgeable and appreciative of the function of acupuncture as a solution for creating relaxation and relieving symptoms of stress, but many wonder how effective it is at treating TMJ.
A British study of 70 cases of dental patients receiving acupuncture for their TMJ indicated that 85 percent of patients benefited from acupuncture with an average reduction in pain intensity by 75 percent.
The main reason acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine are used as an approach to healing is that it focuses on resolving the origin of a condition, which eliminates the pain and discomfort of the symptoms, rather than simply treating the symptoms.
So by using acupuncture, we are treating the root cause, the stress, muscle tension, system imbalances, and pain in the jaw area in one treatment. It benefits the patient by being convenient and resolving several related issues within one treatment session. Acupuncture relieves muscle spasms and decreases pain and swelling. This releases the jaw naturally for the joint to move around freely. Additional points will help to flush out any toxins, boost immunity, calm the mind and balance the other systems within the body like digestion and sleep.
Working with TMJ patients, we look at the entire picture, including the lifestyle and environmental changes that can support further healing. Understanding the source of an issue is the key to preventing it from recurring. Sometimes, a behavioural or psychological shift needs to happen before stress and tension can be lifted.
Supportive solutions which complement acupuncture treatments can include dietary adjustments, wearing a mouthguard at night, or bite plates to help correct misalignment. Stress reduction, relaxation techniques, and jaw stretching exercises can also re-educate and release any tension in the joint, or even changing chewing habits are all behavioural approaches that have been proven to be effective in relieving TMJ symptoms.