Imagine not being able to eat or move your jaw properly. Sound bad? Approximately 10 million people in the United States suffer from disorders classified under one umbrella term known as TMJ disorder and many of them often find themselves in a lot of pain.
TMJ is the acronym for the temporomandibular joints that connect your lower jaw to your skull and enable it to move. When you can’t open or move your jaw properly or have facial pain the diagnosis is frequently TMJ. While anti-inflammatories such as ibuprophen can bring relief in the short term, acupuncture has also been shown to help treat these disorders effectively.
TMJ disorder encompasses a number of different symptoms and issues: lockjaw, pain in the neck, shoulders, ear and/or face, headache, trouble chewing, a sudden change in your bite (the way your teeth fit together). Just as the symptoms vary so do the potential causes. Some triggers may be obvious and even preventable; others can be harder, if not impossible, to spot.
A bad bite or wearing braces can lead to pain; so can stress, which may lead to clenching of the jaw or grinding of teeth, especially during sleep. Wear of the cartilage or disk in the joint is usually what triggers the problem, but many people experience TMJ disorders suddenly, without any identifiable reason for its onset. Regardless of cause and symptoms, it’s usually muscle contraction that causes the pain and immobility of the jaw.
Acupuncture and trigger point (dry) needling can be tremendously effective in treating TMJ. Trigger point work over several treatments can bring complete relief and restoration of jaw function. Acupuncture has proven successful for managing and reducing long-term, chronic pain and it’s also helpful for reducing the tension that is associated with — and at times the cause of – TMJ disorder. Acupuncture can be used in conjunction with other treatments, but its ability to relax muscles is often enough on its own to successfully treat this particular disorder.
Rivertown Acupuncture has successfully treated a number of patients suffering from TMJ. Following an initial visit, we generally recommend 5 – 8 treatments, one or two treatments per week, until the condition is cleared.