How Effective Is Acupuncture In Treating TMJ?

Summary: TMJ dysfunction causes pain in the joints of jaws, and surrounding muscles and ligaments. Acupuncture can be a non-invasive way to treat the disorder. A study in a reputed medical journal suggests that acupuncture can give total relief from the symptoms.

TMJ, a musculoskeletal disorder 

TMJ is a dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint. The joint connects the lower jawbone to your skull and assists in movements like chewing and speaking. Symptoms of TMJ include jaw tenderness, headaches, earaches, and facial pain. The dysfunction causes mild to severe pain.

A doctor or a dentist can make a diagnosis of TMJ dysfunction with the help of an X-Ray, CT scan, or an MRI. The doctor will ask you to move your jaw and see the range of motion. Pressing areas around the jaw, the physician ascertains the sites of pain.

Causes of TMJ

Arthritis in the jaws is one of the leading causes of this disorder. Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are the types of arthritis that can cause TMJ. A few connective tissue diseases can also develop into TMJ dysfunction. Stress and anxiety, which increase bruxism or clenching of teeth, can also increase the chances of TMJ dysfunction. Acute trauma and improper bite are two other main causes of TMJ.

Research showed that too early and too much dental work can also lead to TMJ. When the jaw is pulling in one direction too early and too much, the balance of the muscles and ligaments around the jaw is interrupted, which is one of the reasons why so many young people have TMJ.

Problems caused by TMJ dysfunction

TMJ dysfunction can impair the chewing ability and also causes swelling on the side of the face. Patients can also complain of pain in the neck and shoulders. Frequent headaches are common when one is suffering from TMJ. A patient with TMJ feels throbbing facial pain and pressure. The speech also gets impaired as joints in the jaw get locked, making it difficult to open the mouth. People with TMJ have a hard time to chew hard food, which can lead to more facial pain.

Treatment of TMJ

Sometimes TMJ disorders don’t need treatment but, if the symptoms persist, it is advisable to see a doctor. A range of treatment options is available when one is suffering from TMJ. These include PT, Massage, and Acupuncture. Muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed for TMJ dysfunction. Patients are advised some exercises to relax the jaw muscles.

Acupuncture is helpful 

Many patients nowadays are going for acupuncture as it is non-invasive. Acupuncture works by relaxing the muscles and ligaments around the joints. Acupuncture can reduce inflammation in the joints by improving circulation and reduce stress. Before looking at surgery, you need to make sure to balance your muscles and clear up inflammation, so you can get the best result from the surgery if your TMJ cannot be resolved by Acupuncture, Massage, or PT.

Research on TMJ treatment

A double-blind randomized clinical trial published in the Journal of Dentistry in 2007 indicated that comparing the sham acupuncture group, the real acupuncture group had a greater influence on reducing the symptoms of TMJ. Patients have more satisfaction with the result in real acupuncture group than in the sham acupuncture group. Acupuncture can be a very effective treatment for TMJ related to the imbalance of muscle and ligaments. The result can be instantaneous, but to maintain a good result can take 6 to 12 treatments.