Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ), Jaw Pain and Tension

Bruxism is the condition of chronic jaw tension that results in jaw clenching and teeth grinding.  This condition is often worse at night during sleep (called sleep bruxism). If severe, jaw tension and clenching can cause chronic headaches, disrupted sleep and jaw & tooth problems.

A related condition, often casually called TMJ, generally refers to Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) that occur as a result of problems with the jaw.  In this condition, the jaw joint and surrounding jaw muscles that control chewing and moving the jaw are painful and inflammed.  This may be a result of misalignment or joint degeneration – both of which may be well addressed with acupuncture.   Western medicine does not uniquely identify the causes of teeth grinding, however this condition is often linked to conditions of stress, anxiety, and shoulder tension. Other possible causes may be improper alignment of the actual teeth and jaw or the chronic stress.

From an acupuncturist perspective, teeth grinding and jaw tension can be treated very effectively with acupuncture.  In addition, acupuncture treatment is often combined with cupping therapy on the shoulders and upper back.  In most cases, acupuncture improves bruxism and TMJ quickly.  Usually results are seen in a matter of 2-6 weeks, depending on the underlying causes.

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