Treating TMJ with Acupuncture

Temporomandibular Joint disorder(TMJ) is a disorder of the jaw.

Common symptoms are:

  • Inability to open the mouth
  • Limited range of motion in the jaw
  • Radiating pain through the face into the jaw, neck and possibly shoulders
  • Headaches, earache, toothache
  • Ringing in the ear
  • Painful clicking of the jaw

It’s caused by :

  • Stress
  • trauma
  • Grinding of teeth (Bruxism)
  • Arthritis especially rheumatoid arthritis
  • Malocclusion
  • Tension in the upper cervical spine

And it’s aggravated by:

  • Chewing
  • Yawning
  • Grinding teeth at night

Dentists often send patients to physical therapy or recommend splints as a treatment, but did you know that acupuncture treatment can achieve some great results?*

 Acupuncture literally gets into the problem areas and releases the tension which provides relief of the pain associated with it and increases the range of motion.

Acupuncture also has the added benefit of treating some of the underlying causes as acupuncture has been found to treat anxiety, depression and stress thereby treating both cause and symptom of the disorder.

A study in 2008 (Bergstrom) found that patients who had received treatment 18-20 years earlier for TMJ were still reporting benefit from having received acupuncture treatment for TMJ.

What to expect if you use acupuncture to treat TMJ?

  • Decrease in pain
  • Increase in range of movement in the joint
  • Decrease in teeth grinding
  • Decrease in stress levels

What is acupuncture and how does it work?

Acupuncture is the insertion of single use, sterilised needles into specific areas of the body deemed, via a diagnostic system derived from Chinese Medicine, as being applicable in treating a specific set of symptoms.

The acupuncture nodes contain a high level of sensory fibres, fine blood vessels, messenger cells and lymphatic vessels. The points fall along pathways that interconnect. Needled correctly, the nervous system is stimulated creating a biochemical change in the body.

Why come to ben&biao for Acupuncture for TMJ?

  • Research shows acupuncture can be effective*
  • We have procedures and protocols for TMJ
  • All our practitioners are registered with AHPRA
  • We are conveniently located in Randwick

*Four systematic reviews on the management of facial pain in TMJ disorder (Jung et al 2011, La Touche et al 2010a, Cho et al 2010, La Touche et al 2010b) found evidence that acupuncture may be effective, but also stated that more (and larger, longer) high quality studies are needed to confirm acupuncture’s effect in TMJ disorder. Many of the reviewed trials used sham acupuncture control groups, despite the fact that ‘sham’ acupuncture interventions are not inert placebos, hence potentially underestimating the effect of ‘real’ acupuncture (Lundeberg et al, 2011).

A review by McDonald and Janz in 2017 found moderate evidence to support acupuncture being an effective treatment to TMJ.

by Sally Chilvers

Heidi Dunn and Sally Chilvers are registered Chinese herbalists, acupuncturists and health directors at ben&biao in Sydney.

References:

  1. BAcC, 2014. Facial Pain, The British Acupuncture Council, https://www.acupuncture.org.uk/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions/facial-pain.html
  2. Bergström I, List T, Magnusson T. 2008, A follow-up study of subjective symptoms of temporomandibular disorders in patients who received acupuncture and/or interocclusal appliance therapy 18-20 years earlier.. Acta odontologica Scandinavica. 66(2):88-92.
  3. Cho SH, Whang WW. 2010, Acupuncture for temporomandibular disorders: a systematic review. J Orofac Pain. 24(2):152-62.
  4. Jung A et al. 2011, Acupuncture for treating temporomandibular joint disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized, sham-controlled trials. J Dent.;39(5):341-50. Epub 2011 Feb 25.
  5. La Touche R et al. 2010a, Acupuncture in the treatment of pain in temporomandibular disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Clin J Pain;26(6):541-50.
  6. La Touche R et al. 2010b, Effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of temporomandibular disorders of muscular origin: a systematic review of the last decade. J Altern Complement Med.;16(1):107-12.
  7. Lundeberg T et al. 2011, Is Placebo Acupuncture What It is Intended to Be? Evid Based Complement Alternat Med :932407
  8. McDonald J., Janz, J. 2017, The Acupuncture Evidence Project, AACMA, http://www.acupuncture.org.au/Portals/0/The%20Acupuncture%20Evidence%20Project_Mcdonald%20and%20Janz_Feb_2017_Reissued_April_2017.pdf?ver=2017-04-21-150632-950

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