Acupuncture as a Treatment for TMJ Disorder


Do you grind or grit your teeth, wake up in the morning with jaw pain, or experience frequent headaches?  If so, you might suffer from a common condition called Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, or TMJ.  Per the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, TMJ disorders affect more than 10 million Americans.  Here is some information about TMJ, and some of the alternative treatments that are seeing results, particularly acupuncture.

What is Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)?

TMJ is usually characterized by chronic or acute inflammation of the joint connecting your mandible to your skull.  TMJ can be caused by trauma to the jaw in some cases, a dental misalignment, or even psychological factors that produce jaw clenching in times of emotional stress.

A person suffering from TMJ will often experience severe headaches, pain in chewing muscles, clicking or popping of the jaw, and other muscle stiffness. While some TMJ disorders resolve with time, many develop into long-term problems that require treatment.

Alternative Treatments for TMJ

There are prescription medications and surgical options for TMJ disorders, but many of them are quite risky and unnecessary except in a few extreme cases.  Instead, many TMJ patients today are opting for alternative treatments that are showing success.  Among these are such things as learning relaxation techniques, using biofeedback, and employing the Chinese Medicine practice of acupuncture and cupping.

Acupuncture as an Effective TMJ Treatment

Patients suffering from stress-related symptoms have been using acupuncture as a mean of relaxation and relief for centuries.  Now, that same treatment is being employed to help those suffering from the effects of TMJ disorders. In fact, one British study found that 85% of TMJ patients being treated with acupuncture experienced a pain reduction on average of 75%.

While acupuncture alone is sometimes enough to bring relief to patients with mild TMJ issues, others might need the addition of stress-relieving herbs or a treatment referred to as “cupping.”  Chinese herbal medicine can both help relieve stress and clear up some of your body’s deficiencies that are creating unwanted symptoms.

Cupping is Chinese medicine therapy that saw increased use in this past Summer’s Olympic games. This non-invasive modality uses a suction force to pull toxins from the body’s muscles.  If your jaw muscles are tense, which is common with TMJ, this treatment could be effective.  Cupping does produce some skin discoloration, or bruising, which will naturally disappear within a few weeks.

Traditional Chinese Medicine, such as Acupuncture and cupping, is effective as a treatment for TMJ because it addresses the root cause of the symptoms, such as system imbalances, muscle tension, and stress. The treatment also relieves symptoms, like jaw pain, and can flush toxins from the body which will assist with immunity, sleep, and digestion.

Fortunately for TMJ sufferers, these alternative treatments show fast results and often aren’t required long-term.  A patient will generally feel significant improvement within several sessions and chronic conditions may only need a treatment schedule lasting several weeks.