Home » Treating Jaw Pain [TMJ] with Acupuncture
Temporomandibular Joint(TMJ) disorder is a very common painful condition that many people suffer in our society due to increased stress level and unhealthy postural habits, TMJ disorder related symptoms range from pain and soreness of the jaw muscles, clicking or popping of the jaw, locking of the jaw, limited mouth motions, clenching or grinding of the teeth, headaches and dizziness, neck and shoulder pain.
In Kampo Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture clinic, we treat TMJ with a holistic, non-invasive/chemical/surgical approach to address the root causes. With traditional acupuncture and specific targeted manual massage therapy, our treatment is able to correct posture, reduce stress, release the muscle tension to bring the proper balance, alleviate the pain and tension around the joints.
1 Focusing on the root cause
Conventional treatment options such as pain medication, mouth guards and surgery are only working on the symptoms not the cause. This is due to the narrowed point of view of TMJ problems that only look at the jaw. One of the common “cause” of TMJ disorder is jaw clenching at night, but a mouth guard does not stop the jaw from clenching, it only reduces the damage of the clenching on teeth. The jaw muscles are still tensing up regardless of the presence of mouth guards. Clenching the jaw is just the body’s natural response to stressful situations. Another area that is affected by body’s stress response is the posture, when we under stress, we tend to tighten up the muscles such as pectorals, subscapularis, scalenes and trapezius, this imbalance tension overtime will result in a forward tilting neck and rounded shoulder posture, which put a tremendous amount of tension on jaw muscles. Kampo TMJ treatment is focused on these deeper causes and the goal of treatment is to eliminate the underlying imbalance as much as possible.
2 Acupuncture to open the channel, reduce stress
Acupuncture is an ancient healing practice. It involves the insertion of fine needles into specific acupuncture points on the body to achieve therapeutic outcomes. For TMJ disorder, the local points around the jaw and face are commonly used to treat the symptoms. However, what makes Kampo TMJ treatment uniquely effective is the distantal points. Based on Chinese Medicine principle, there are two meridians, stomach meridian and large intestine meridian run through the jaw area, some points on these meridians are also being chosen to apply acupuncture and these distant points are being shown very effective to relieve the pain and tension in the TMJ.
Acupuncture is also being used to improve mental health for anxiety and depression. Points that are known to reduce stress are also used in our treatment. These points can synergistically increase the overall outcome of the TMJ treatment.
3 Manual therapy to release tension and rebalance posture
Another fundamental factor behind TMJ is the posture related muscle imbalance. We also apply manual therapy such as massage, tuina or cupping to correct the surrounding structure and postural issues that contribute to TMJ on a deeper level. These techniques can be done in separate sessions, or can be incorporated into the same acupuncture visit by experienced acupuncturists.
Unless very necessary, we usually do not do intraoral works for TMJ because we find that the intra-oral treatment can be very intense and painful, which is seemingly counterproductive to the cause: stress and tension. We rather use a more gentle and holistic approach to achieve better results. We found the combination of acupuncture and properly performed manual therapy are very effective to address the root of TMJ condition.
Please be aware that early detection and intervention is the key before too much damage is being made. If you have experienced any of the TMJ related symptoms, please take action and keep the problems from growing big.
If you are suffering from TMJ at any stage and looking for a holistic, non-invasive, non-chemical solution, you can try the integrated TMJ treatment at Kampo Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Clinic in downtown Toronto.
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