How Can Acupuncture Help To Relive Your Jaw Pain?
The temporomandibular joint is a mouthful to say, and is one of the most complex and perhaps most used joints in the body. It is a hinge joint connecting the jaw to the temporal bones of the skull in front of either ear. Thanks to the temporomandibular joint, the jaw is able to move up, down and sideways, allowing us to talk, chew, laugh and yawn. Pain or other dysfunction of the joint is referred to by the umbrella term temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD, TMJ, or TMJD).
TMD Causes and Symptoms
The exact causes of TMD are not known. Medical practioners agree, however, that there are genetic, hormonal or anatomical factors which may predispose a person to the condition. Factors which may precipitate it are occlusion of the teeth, and injury to the jaw, joint, or muscles of the head and neck. Another precipitator is habitual grinding or clenching of the teeth. The third set of factors may prolong it, and include stress, and teeth grinding or clenching.
While the symptoms of TMD can be temporary, they may also last for years and include severe pain and discomfort on either or both sides of the face. More specifically, a person suffering from TMD may experience any of a myriad of symptoms. These include swelling on the side of the face; trouble chewing; a sudden uncomfortable bite (how the teeth fit together); tenderness or pain in the face, jaw joint, neck and shoulders; toothaches; headaches; earaches, ringing in the ears and dizziness; jaws that get locked in the open or closed-mouth position; and clicking, popping, or grating sounds in the jaw joint when moved.
Acupuncture Treatment for TMD
Acupuncture originated in China over 3,000 years ago and is based on the principle of correcting and maintaining balanced flows of Qi or body energy. Qi meridians create a system of pathways throughout the body, similar to the circulatory system of veins and arteries. The insertion of thin needles, as well as the application of moxibustion and acupressure, at specific points along the meridians restores normal flow, when Qi flow becomes blocked or stagnated.
Acupuncture may be used alone or in conjunction with other treatment approaches for TMD. Acupuncture relieves TMD discomfort by relaxing targeted muscles and decreasing the body’s overall stress level. Application may be local (at the site of pain) or distal (at some other points on the body on the related meridian).
Since the condition is related to a compendium of aspects of both mind and body, sufferers of TMD are one of the most difficult groups of chronic pain patients to treat successfully by many dentists and chiropractors. Fortunately, acupuncture offers effective alternative medicine treatment, as it is able to tackle many of the aspects of TMD.