TMJ Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome

TMJ is a very common condition that is characterised by pain in the muscles of the jaw.

The temporomandibular joint is a hinge type joint that connects the jaw bone to the skull and allows us to open our mouths to talk and chew etc. The muscles of the joint can pull on the jaw and change its alignment, therefore affecting the way it moves and causing pain.

Symptoms vary from person to person but can include pain in the muscles and joints of the jaw. This pain can radiate to the face, neck and shoulder especially if there is tension in this area. Tinnitus, teeth grinding, headaches, muscle spasms, toothache, pressure behind the eye are some of the other symptoms experienced. It can also be difficult to open the mouth all the way, and popping, clicking and grinding noises can be heard and felt when chewing or talking.

Diagnosis may need an X-ray or arthrography, in which a dye is injected into the joint and then viewed.

The most common causes of TMJ are stress, a poor bite and grinding of the teeth at night.

Other causes may include

  • Dental work where the mouth has remained open for a long time
  • Trauma
  • Tension in the neck and shoulder
  • Arthritis in the joint
  • Poor posture

A good diet with proper supplements and treatments like acupuncture or physical therapy are valuable for treating TMJ and can be very helpful for treating the underlying problems like teeth grinding and stress. Stress management and adopting good postural working positions are all advisable for the management of the condition going forward.

Can acupuncture help?

An intense course of acupuncture works very well for this condition. Your acupuncturist may also use cupping therapy to speed the healing along. Cupping will move any stagnation that is present in the area which allows fresh blood and oxygen to reach the muscles of the jaw. The results will be much faster than using acupuncture alone. However, cupping can leave some bruising on the face and this puts clients off going for this particular option.

Regular maintenance sessions a few times per year is also recommended.

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