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Y.C. Chan, OMD, Dipl Ac
Acupuncture For TMJ
Acupuncture Clinic of Maryland

Acupuncture For TMJ

TMJ is a medical condition that affects the joints of the upper and lower jaw. Clinical examination of the joints, tendons and surrounding muscles, based on symptoms reported by the patient, can identify TMJ.

When the patient moves the mouth to speak, chew, laugh, yawn, and brush teeth, pain and discomfort may begin. Symptoms can include jaw pain, facial pain, neck pain, ringing ear, dizziness, as well as headaches. The most severe pains caused by TMJ, such as burning, shocking or tingling, are very difficult to control by medication. Different patients may have different degree of symptoms, which can affect their daily life.

TMJ discomfort or pain is often triggered by stress, due to the jaw clenching at night; intensive dental work, keeping the mouth open for too long; arthritis around the joints; improper chewing; hyper mobility; as well as local problems from trauma.

Although, there are different approaches to reduce TMJ symptom, most patients take over-the-counter pain killers to temporarily relieve some of the pain. Doctors usually prescribe analgesics, anti-inflammatories, or muscle relaxants, which can ease some of the TMJ symptoms at night. However, during the daytime, when the mouth starts to move, such as when talking, eating, or brushing the teeth, pain and other symptoms may occur again. Patients can undergo realignment surgery, which has no guarantee of success and may have a possible side effect of facial paralysis.

Acupuncture treatment is a special approach for TMJ. The World Health Organization and the National Institute of Health have both recognized acupuncture as the most effective treatment for pain control. TMJ is one on the conditions in the list that can be treated by acupuncture.

The acupuncture needle works on the local area directly targeting the main source of pain. Acupuncture provides balance to the mind and body, and also targets the jaw's network of energy channels, which in turn allows nerve and muscular tension in the jaw to diminish. The right adjustment of needle stimulation can relax the muscles surrounding the jaw, and also lower stress from the entire body, either direct or indirect, alleviating all discomforts and pain from TMJ.

Acupuncture meridians and points selection of the heart, small intestine and kidney meridian (Chienching, Yangku, Funglung) are recommended. However, there are no limitations to selected points, which depend on an individual patient's condition. If more complicated symptoms occur then different points and additional points may be considered.

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