Looking for jaw pain relief?
Updated: Jun 4
If it hurts to talk, swallow, chew, or yawn, you're not alone. Jaw pain is the second most common type of musculoskeletal pain. Discomfort may be in the jaw itself, the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), or in the muscles that attach to the jaw.
Symptoms of TMJ Dysfunction:
The main sign of TMJ disorder is pain and tenderness in jaw, typically with clicking and popping sounds.
Other possible symptoms include:
Headaches or migraines
Shoulder and neck tension
Numbness in arms or hands
Ear pain or ringing in ears
Causes of jaw dysfunction:
Unconscious clenching and grinding of the jaw, often occurring during the night.
Physical causes like structural misalignment, trauma, arthritis, poor posture
Emotional causes including stress and anxiety
Chinese Medicine Perspective:
As with all health issues, Chinese Medicine looks at the individual as a whole and identifies the underling pattern leading to the condition. Many patterns can create TMJ pain or disorders. Below are a few common patterns:
Liver qi stagnation: The liver in Chinese Medicine is responsible for the easy movement of blood, fluids, and nourishment throughout the body. This organ is affected by excess emotions like stress, anxiety, anger, and frustration. Symptoms of liver qi stagnation can include irritability, neck and shoulder tension, teeth grinding during the night, headaches, frequent sighing, waking between 1-3 a.m.
Yin deficiency: Yin represents the moistening and nourishing fluids of the body which includes lubrication of joints and muscles. Signs of yin deficiency include pain and tightness in the jaw joint with limited movement, sore and achy low back or knees, dryness (eyes, throat), brittle hair and nails, numbness, ringing in the ears
Imbalance in the Stomach meridian:
The Stomach meridian is one of the 12 main meridians in acupuncture that are an invisible network to transport nutrients. The Stomach meridian travels through the jaw area and when imbalanced, can cause jaw pain. Other symptoms of an imbalance in the stomach channel include: bloating, heartburn, stomach pain, irregular bowel movements, and over thinking.
How to get relief?
If you have tried have tried pharmaceuticals, jaw exercises, and mouth guards and haven't gotten adequate relief, acupuncture offers an alternative option.
How acupuncture can help:
Acupuncture has been shown to relieve pain and improve joint function through the release of endorphins and natural opioids. Acupuncture reduces inflammation and increases micro-circulation to an injured area, speeding up recovery. Provide relief for stress and anxiety by regulating the nervous system bringing us out of "fight or flight" mode and activating the "rest and digest" response.