In the medical field, temporomandibular joint is identified as the paired joints that connect the upper and lower jaws. As TMJ is identified as one of the most complex joints found in the body, it could become the source of differing disorders, which is why the term TMJ is a also a collective reference to the pain and dysfunction affecting such joints. Finding a definitive treatment for TMJ is difficult to attain as this condition is related to differing body and mind aspects including dental issues, mental stress and neuromascular disorders.
While there are different approaches to treat TMJ, these treatments could only provide short-term symptomatic relief. They are not capable of addressing the main cause of the problem, which is why despite continuous treatments TMJ still occurs. Luckily, for TMJ sufferers, acupuncture is now accessible and is said to be one of the most effective alternative medicine treatments that could aid in reducing, if not eliminating, the pain and discomforts that temporomandibular joint disorder could induce.In fact, in a 2007 study, it was shown that acupuncture for TMJ significantly reduced TMJ-related short-term muscle pain among TMJ sufferers receiving acupuncture.
Acupuncture for TMJ can be applied in conjunction with other TMJ treatment approaches, especially with medications like analgesics, anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, and corticosteroids for severe TMJ cases. This is due to the fact that acupuncture does not alter the functions and effectiveness of these contemporary treatments. As a matter of fact, acupuncture can even be utilized as a stand-alone alternative for such treatment approaches without positing any risk of side effects.
Acupuncture has been greatly acknowledged to effectively lessen the pain that TMJ induces. This is because acupuncture directly targets the main source of pain by providing balance to the mind and body and by targeting the network of energy channels known as meridians, which in turn allows the neuromascular tension in the jaw to diminish. It should be noted that the underlying stress and contractions in the jaw and face are what cause TMJ pain. Therefore, acupuncture is applied to relax the muscles surrounding the jaws, which also lowers the stress experienced by the body, alleviating TMJ-related pain and discomforts.
Commonly, TMJ sufferers that are experiencing the chronic stage of the said condition are suggested to undergo six or more acupuncture treatments, while mild conditions can be treated in just four therapeutic sessions. It should be taken into consideration, though, that despite the relief that can be achieved through acupuncture for TMJ, there are instances that long-term treatment might still be required so as to "reeducate" the muscles surrounding the TMJ to their right functions as to avoid recurrences and complications. Complete long-term care for TMJ also requires lifestyle changes, dietary changes, stress reduction, jaw stretching exercises, relaxation techniques and modification in chewing habits.
When considering acupuncture as a part of your TMJ treatment, do not think of doing the acupuncture yourself. Instead, visit a trusted acupuncturist to properly address the disharmonies in your body as well as the other contributing factors that cause your TMJ. Remember that acupuncture involves needles that may be inserted in the area of pain around your ear, jaw, elbows, knees and big toes, so it is not advised that you do this process yourself as doing things wrongly could disrupt the flow of Qi in your body, which could exacerbate your condition. Nevertheless, a reliable acupuncturist could also help you in doing the changes in your lifestyle in order to reduce and eventually eliminate the discomforts of your TMJ.
This case study describes the use of acupuncture in a professional musician with myogenic temporomandibular dysfunction. The 3-year history of symptoms was associated with persistent episodic tension-type headaches. Acupuncture was used for trigger point release, primarily of the masticatory muscles, in conjunction with exercise therapy. After 8 weekly acupuncture sessions, the patient's pain had completely resloved, headaches had resolved and the Patient-Specific Functional Scale showed significant improvements.