If you’ve been experiencing ongoing pain in your jaw, you might be wondering whether acupuncture can help.
Acupuncture has long been used to relieve symptoms of joint pain. At Acupuncture Geelong, we regularly help clients with complaints associated with temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD).
What is TMD?
The joints that attach your jaw bone to the base of the skull are called the temporomandibular joints (TMJ). Problem or pain associated with the TMJ is known as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). This might also be referred to as TMJ disorder or TMJD.
TMD can cause a range of symptoms. This might include:
- Pain on one side of your jaw (which may get progressively worse over time)
- Difficulty chewing, particularly hard foods
- A clicking or locking of the jaw when you use your mouth
- Difficulty opening the mouth wide
- A blocked feeling in the ear
- Headache radiating from the affected area
There are myriad causes of TMD. Some of the more common causes include:
- Prolonged stress
- Habitual grinding or clenching of the teeth
- Poor posture that strains the connective muscles in the face and neck
- Muscle weakness or joint instability
While TMD may resolve on its own, this painful inflammation can affect other areas of your life. It may impact your ability to concentrate, eat your favourite foods, or even talk at length. Getting treatment early can help to restore your jaw function and get back to normal.
Treatment for TMD
Because there are myriad causes of TMD, there is no one recommended treatment. Treatment protocols include those designed to help strengthen the muscles, provide immediate pain relief, and address underlying causes such as teeth grinding.
Acupuncture may be used alongside other treatments such as physical therapy, mouth guards, pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medication to manage TMD symptoms and causes.
Acupuncture for TMD
Acupuncture works by inserting very fine needles at various trigger points in the body, which stimulates the nervous system and causes muscles to relax. It can help to release tension, improve movement and relax the body.
Research into the use of acupuncture therapy to treat TMD has indicated it can be effective in relieving pain. One study observed that 85% of patients who received acupuncture for TMD reported an average of 75% reduction in pain intensity.
As well as providing pain relief, acupuncture for TMD can help improve the range of motion of the jaw by releasing trigger points in masseter, lateral/medial pterygoid and temporalis muscles.
An added benefit of acupuncture is the ability to reduce stress and promote relaxation. TMD can often be a symptom of heightened stress, which leads to contraction of the muscles of the jaw and face. Acupuncture can help regulate stress hormones cortisol, noradrenaline and serotonin to help your body cope with stress better.
If you are experiencing pain in your jaw, speak with your doctor, dentist or alternative medicine practitioner about whether acupuncture can help.
Dr Phillip Tring is a qualified and AHPRA registered Acupuncturist and Chinese Medicine Practitioner with 8 years of experience. He has experience treating a wide range of presenting conditions, particularly those associated with modern life such as back pain, sciatica, sports injuries, and stress.
Known for his friendly, warm and humorous approach to treatment, Dr Phillip combines his knowledge of acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine with a passion for improving his clients’ general health, nutrition and wellbeing.