The temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are two joints that connect the jaws to the skull. They consist of the mandible and the temporal bone. These joints, along with other muscles, allow the jaws to move up and down, side to side, forward and backward. In addition, they enable us to chew, talk, yawn, and swallow. If you ever experience pain or inability to do any of those everyday actions of daily living, you may have trouble with TMJ disorder (Temporomandibular disorder (TMD)., 2021).
What is temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD)?
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) is a condition of the jaw muscles, temporomandibular joints (TMJ), and the nerves associated with chronic facial pain. If they are not aligned and working smoothly, an individual may experience TMD, such as myofascial pain, internal derangement of the joint, and degenerative joint disease (Temporomandibular disorder (TMD)., 2021).
What are the symptoms of TMJ disorder (TMD)?
The most common TMJ disorder (TMD) symptom is a pain in the jaw and surrounding muscles. However, there may be other symptoms associated with TMD, such as pain in the face or neck, stiffness in jaw muscles, limited jaw movement, locking of the jaw, click or popping sound in jaw, dental issues, tinnitus, vertigo, headaches, or shifting of the jaw (Burke, D., 2019).
How does tmd happen?
It is difficult to pinpoint the exact causes of TMJ disorder (TMD) as it may be a combination of various factors, such as genetics, arthritis, or jaw injury (TMJ disorders., 2018). Moreover, TMD may result from stress, habitual grinding or clenching of the teeth, jaw issues present at birth, or growth disorders (Burke, D., 2019).
What are the causes of TMJ disorder (TMD)
in Oriental Medicine?
TMJ disorder (TMD) is related to different types of obstruction. For example, symptoms such as physical and emotional stress or trauma may cause stagnation of Qi. Moreover, pathogenic factors such as cold, heat, dampness, or wind can cause obstruction and blockage of Qi (energy) and blood in certain body areas. Therefore, a TCM/OM doctor must assess a patient to treat him/her accordingly. For example, an individual with Liver Qi stagnation may experience symptoms of tension in facial muscles, tinnitus, or headaches, whereas an individual with wind/cold Bi syndrome might feel acute pain, ear aches, fever, or chills (Tan, Q., & Cai, X. C., 2021).
What can Oriental medicine do to treat TMJ disorder (TMD)?
Acupuncture is an effective TCM/OM modality to reduce pain in many areas of the human body, including musculoskeletal conditions such as TMD. It allows the muscles involved in jaw function to relax and alleviates the clicking or popping symptoms of TMJ disorder (Tan, Q., & Cai, X. C., 2021).
There are several acupressure points to help alleviate the jaw pain that comes from TMJ disorder (TMD). Those points include Quan Liao (SI 18, between upper and lower jaw), Yi Feng (SJ 17, indent under earlobes), Tinggong (SI 19, front of the earlobe), and Feng Chi (GB 20, base of the skull). The key is to massage those points gently and gradually increase the pressure as tolerable to decrease the overall pain, headaches, and jaw tension stemming from TMD (4 acupressure points that target TMJ pain., 2020).
Traditional Chinese herbs
Traditonal Chinese herbs used to restore the body’s balance come in different forms, such as pills, powders, extracts, teas, capsules, or dried or fresh herbs. The most commonly used herbs to treat TMJ include Xian He Cao (agrimony) to reduce tension in jaw muscles, Lan Ma Bian Cao (blue vervain) to relax clenched jaw), and Sheng Jiang (ginger) to reduce ear and sinus pain (Acupuncture for TMJ – the best alternative jaw pain remedy., 2021).
Due to the deficiency of Qi in the Liver meridian and the excess of Qi in the Gallbladder meridian, moxibustion is an excellent modality to restore Qi and reduce symptoms of TMJ disorder (Complementary and alternative medicine Print-Friendly Temporomandibular joint dysfunction., 2017).
Facial cupping can effectively treat TMJ disorder by releasing stagnant blood and cellular waste and increasing blood, oxygen, and nutrients to reach the temporomandibular joint. It may cause a minor discoloration in the face, but the outcomes of pain reduction for TMJ are tremendous and worth it for many (Jaw pain and TMJ., 2014).
Relaxing techniques and gentle exercise may be great ways to help prevent TMJ disorder from occurring. The exercise recommended by Colgate includes stretching the jaw and joint area, Rocabado’s 6x6 exercise routine, Kraus’ TMJ exercises, and relaxation exercises such as breathing exercises. These exercises will allow individuals experiencing TMJ disorder to find relief (TMJ exercises for pain relief., 2022).
TMJ disorder interferes with a person’s most basic activities, such as talking and eating. Lifestyle changes may be beneficial, such as avoiding chewing gum and eating only soft foods, but an individual should seek help as soon as possible (Porter, A., 2017). Although the symptoms may improve in a few months, it may cause frustration as an individual waits. Don’t wait for the pain to go away by itself, which generally won't! Let Rapha Acupuncture provide the best treatment for TMJ disorder to relieve your symptoms in no time! schedule your appointment online here or Give us a call today!
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Burke, D. (2019). TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/tmj-disorders#symptoms
St. Luke's Hospital. (2017). Complementary and alternative medicine./Temporomandibular joint dysfunction. https://www.stlukes-stl.com/health-content/medicine/33/000162.htm#:~:text=In%20treating%20TMJ%20dysfunction%2C%20acupuncturists,points)%20may%20boost%20the%20therapy.
Pasadena Pain Management. (2020). 4 acupressure points that target TMJ pain. https://www.pasadenapainmanagement.com/4-accupressure-points-that-target-tmj-pain/
Jinhee Yoo Acupuncture. (2014). Jaw pain and TMJ. https://jinheeyooacupuncture.com/acupuncture-pain-management/jaw-pain-and-tmj/
Porter, A. (2017). TMJ disorders: Causes, symptoms, and relief. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317706#Treatment
Tan, Q., & Cai, X. C. (2021). How to treat TMJ with acupuncture and TCM. Art of Wellness Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). https://myartofwellness.com/how-to-treat-tmj-with-acupuncture-and-tcm/
Johns Hopkins Medicine. (2021). Temporomandibular disorder (TMD). https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/temporomandibular-disorder-tmd#:~:text=Temporomandibular%20disorders%20(TMD)%20are%20disorders,may%20result%20in%20temporomandibular%20disorder.
Mayo Clinic. (2018). TMJ disorders. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tmj/symptoms-causes/syc-20350941
Colgate. (2022). TMJ exercises for pain relief. https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/temporomandibular-disorder/tmj-exercises-for-pain-relief#