May 26 2015

Acupuncture and TMJ

Have you ever had pain in your jaw or the surrounding areas of your head? You might have TMJ, a medical term that refers to the temporomandibular joint. The temporomandibular joint connects the lower jaw (mandible) to the skull’s temporal bone, which is on both sides of the skull. This joint functions like a hing (think of a door frame or car door). The joint and the muscles that surround it enable us to open and close our mouths. The muscles and tendons that surround the temporomandibular joint can pull on the jaw and change its alignment in the joint. This can impact the health of the joint itself and the way the jaw moves, which can be very painful.

The majority of people with TMJ problems have pain that comes and goes, but some have long-term chronic pain. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, some of the symptoms of TMJ include:

  • Pain, particularly in the chewing muscles or jaw joint or an ache around your ear
  • Limited movement or locking of the jaw
  • Pain in the face, neck, or shoulders
  • Clicking, popping, or grating sounds when opening your mouth
  • Trouble chewing
  • Headaches

One of the major causes of TMJ is stress/anxiety. Many folks with TMJ grind their teeth at night. Other causes of TMJ are arthritis in the jaw; neck injuries; and sinus infections. Acupuncture can help address these symptoms. Acupuncture needles are applied to the primary muscles surrounding the jaw. Needles will also be inserted to distal points of the body. Since TMJ is often associated with anxiety and stress, acupuncture needles may also be applied to points that help reduce stress and anxiety. Acupuncture ear seeds may also be applied at the end of a treatment session to help patients continue the treatment from home.

If you are experiencing  the pain associated with TMJ, give us a call or make an appointment online. The Gathering Point Community Acupuncture Clinic can help you get rid of those headaches.

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