Santa Monica Acupuncture Treatment for
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
What is TMJ?
Joint Disorder, most commonly known as TMJ, is named after the temporomandibular
joints that connect lower jaw to the skull. The two matching joints, one on each
side of the head, in front of your ears allow your jaw to move up and down and
from side to side. The problems occur when people have popping sounds in their
jaw, canít open their mouth completely, they have headaches toothaches, earaches
and other facial pain. Some pain comes and goes, but for some people itís
chronic. Millions of people are affected by TMJ every year.
Experts estimate that nearly five percent of the population is currently
suffering from TMJ disorder and looking for help. Approximately 20 percent at
some point will suffer from this disorder in some or the other form.
3 Signs You
May Have TMJ Disorder
1. Clicking - Do you hear a clicking noise in your jaw when you bite,
chew, or widely open your mouth? This clicking noise indicates the loosening of
the tendon in the jaw, causing the bones to hit. Any clicking noises in the jaw
should be checked out as soon as possible by a qualified physician.
2. Pain - Pain from TMJ disorder can be located in a variety of places on
your body including the jaw, face, neck, shoulders, and the areas around the
ears. Some patients have even wrongly associated TMJ pain as an ear infection.
Seek a medical diagnosis to determine the cause of your pain.
3. Eating Difficulty - If you are experiencing discomfort while eating
your regular diet, it may be a symptom of TMJ disorder. Only a physician can
accurately diagnose your condition, but there should not be pain while chewing
Other symptoms of TMJ include headache, tension in the jaw, neck pain and
ringing in the ears. Common triggers are stress or genetics but many people get
TMJ after an injury or from an orthodontic treatment. More women than men seek
Studies Confirm Acupuncture Can Treat TMJ
A number of studies measured the efficacy of acupuncture and if it can treat TMJ
pain. They found that acupuncture can relieve pain long term for TMJ problems.
It is effective in relieving these symptoms by unlocking the affected muscles.
One review evaluated 15 studies, each with a reference group, randomization,
blinding, appropriate statistics and sufficient follow-up. Of those 15 studies
reviewed, 11 found acupuncture to be effective in treating TMJ. The study showed
that 11 of the 15 studies showed acupuncture to be more effective than placebo
or that it was able to produce better or similar results to an accepted
treatment procedure. Therefore, the Review concluded that ďacupuncture . . .
should be considered as a reasonable alternative or supplement to current dental
practice in these areas (TMJ and analgesia).
A study conducted at the Sao Paulo University in Brasil found that after 3
months of acupuncture, patients with TMJ experienced significantly less pain,
increased strength of their bite and decreased EMG activity of the masticatory
muscles. The researchers found decreased EMG activity at rest, protrusion, left
and right laterality, and clenching; as well as increased values of maximal bite
force after acupuncture treatment.
Treatment with Acupuncture
In treating TMJ dysfunction, acupuncturists often find a deficiency of Qi in the
liver meridian and an excess of Qi in the gallbladder meridian that runs down
the sides of the body. When treating TMJ, the therapist will understand the
source of the problem and build a treatment strategy. For example, if thereís
neck pain or tension, Dr. Binder will release the neck muscles. Stress-induced
TMJ means the work needs to be done on calming the mind and creating coping
strategies. Qigong exercises and meditation may be helpful for stress-related
TMJ disorders, so I will talk to the patient about that, too.
Helpful supplements include joint enhancing and anti-inflammatory supplements
such as Glucosamine, Cissus, Omega-3 supplements, Vitamin C. Calcium and
Magnesium also work well.
In conclusion, I encourage you to consider acupuncture as your TMJ treatment