Temporomandibular Joint, or TMJ, is a disorder that can develop when one or both joints in your jaw are not working correctly. Having trouble with TMJ can be distressing, as it is one of the most complex and utilized joints in your whole body.
Acupuncture, a branch of Chinese Medicine that has been practiced for thousands of years, is effective at treating both the pain and lack of mobility associated with TMJ. A study published in 2006 by the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, showed that acupuncture had a positive influence on the signs and symptoms of TMJ.
So, What Exactly is the Temporomandibular Joint?
The temporomandibular joints connect the jawbone to the skull near each ear at the sides of the head, and allow your jaw to move up and down fluidly when the joints are working correctly. Eating, speaking, and facial expressions are all affected if the temporomandibular joint is injured. You may be suffering from chronic ear pain or have difficulty opening your mouth fully with TMJ.
What Causes TMJ Pain?
There are a large number of causes for TMJ and pain in the jaw. A habitual grinding of the teeth can cause TMJ, a problem common for those who clench their teeth while sleeping. Protective mouth guards can be used to combat the wear on teeth but may not stop grinding completely. Clenching the teeth at night while you sleep causes stress on your jaw joints and you may wake up with soreness first thing in the morning. A dislocated TMJ, worn cartilage or arthritis in the joint can all add to pain associated with this disorder.
Patients who suffer from TMJ disorders complain the most frequently of pain in the jaw, and many notice popping, clicking or grinding sounds when they try to eat or yawn. This constant clicking or popping sound can be distressing to the patient. Pain can be either very sharp, or a constant, dull pain. Moderate to severe headaches can be present when muscles or ligaments of the jaw become strained. Some patients don’t realize that TMJ is the reason behind their ear pain and may believe that they are in need of antibiotics for an ear infection.
Acupuncture can relieve this pain safe and effectively without any long term or harsh side effects. If you are seeking natural alternatives to over the counter medication, acupuncture may be the answer for you.
Acupuncture can increase circulation to the jaw and aid the body to heal itself by reducing inflammation in the affected areas. Treating TMJ requires a careful analysis of what is going on inside the jaw. Since TMJ can be caused by misalignment, grinding, arthritis, or joint dysfunction, it is important to have your TMJ assessed by a professional to determine your treatment needs.
Acupuncture can assist you in dealing with the pain associated with TMJ and can enhance your body’s ability to recover from pain. Acupuncture does not hurt and in fact most patients feel more pain from their daily jaw discomfort. The needles used in acupuncture are stainless steel and about the width of a human hair. Most patients notice relief in their pain within a treatment or two.
All licensed acupuncturists must complete a vigorous training program that involves a significant number of classroom and clinical hours. A licensed acupuncturist will be able to work with your specific case and help resolve the symptoms in addition to helping you to feel more relaxed overall. It is not necessary to deal with chronic pain from TMJ any longer. With complimentary therapies you should be able to get relief from the symptoms you are experiencing from an injured TMJ. Acupuncture will complement any treatment option you choose.
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Board Certified and Licensed Bellingham Acupuncturist
“Acupuncture treatments are natural, safe, effective and drug-free. My goal is to activate the natural, self-healing abilities of your body to bring balance and prevent future illness and disease.”