Managing Jaw Pain

Managing Jaw Pain

One of the most over used joints in our body is the temporo-mandibular joint or TMJ joint for short.

The TMJ joint and the ligaments/muscles that surround it connect the lower jaw bone to the skull.

These muscles and ligaments stretch and strain as they provide us movement to talk, chew and clench.

For this reason, it’s is no wonder why so many people experience jaw pain at one point or another.

When the TMJ joint becomes overworked and tight it can lead to what’s called a TMJ dysfunction.

What Causes a TMJ Dysfunction?

  • Emotional and physical stress may lead to jaw tension
  • Grinding or clenching teeth
  • Injuries or fractures of the joint
  • Missing teeth, poorly shaped teeth, crowns or bridges
  • Degenerative diseases such as osteo and rheumatoid arthritis

Common Signs & Symptoms

  • Reduced movement of the jaw
  • Difficulty opening the mouth
  • Clicking or popping noises in the jaw
  • Pain when chewing or opening the jaw widely
  • Ear-aches, loss of hearing or ringing in the ear
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Migraine headaches

How is TMJ Diagnosed?

X-Ray is used to rule out arthritis and other causes.

An assessment may include:

  • Opening and closing the jaw to assess movement and presence of clicking.
  • The measure finger test is done to assess the range of movement of the jaw.
  • Palpating the jaw, shoulders and neck for tenderness

Managing TMJ with Acupuncture

Acupuncture may vary depending on the site of pain.

Treatment may include:

  • Local points may be used to support blood flow to the site of pain, help relax muscles and remove waste products to aid recovery. Local points may include ST7, Tai-yang, LI4, GB21, and ST6
  • LI 11, 10, 4 on the arm and SP9, 8 on the leg of the opposite side of the pain
  • Massage techniques may be used on the pterogoid muscles.

Chinese Herbal Medicine

Chinese herbal medicine is excellent at getting rid of chronic pain and resolving underlying problems.

After a physical exam, a herbal formula may be prescribed according the nature of the patients problems.

4 Tips To Manage TMJ pain

  1. Practice self massage
  2. Include stress management strategies like meditation
  3. Avoid using ice and apply warmth instead
  4. Apply for a free assessment here

David L. Edwards is an author, Chinese medicine physician and licensed acupuncturist. He is the author of The Body Fat Formula and The Pocketbook guide to Chinese medicine and painless cures (available on amazon). David is the creator of Barefoot Health and Wellness health programs.

Apply for an assessment here 

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  1. Porter, Kaplan (editors). The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy, 19th ed. Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., Whitehouse Station, N.J. 2011.
  2. The Practice of Chinese medicine, second edition. Giovanni Maciocia. Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.
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