Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder can lead to pain in your jaw joint, around your ear, or on your face. This pain can make it hard to chew, talk, or do other daily tasks. If you're having trouble getting your pain under control, you may want to try acupuncture. Here are three things you need to know about acupuncture for TMJ disorder.
What should you expect?
During your acupuncture session, a series of thin needles will be inserted into strategic points on your body. These points include the ST 6 point, which is below your ear, and the ST 7 point, which is in front of the ear. The GB 3 point, which is on your temple close to your ear, can also be used.
Distal points, like the LI 4 beside your thumb, may also be used, so don't be surprised when the acupuncturist inserts needles in areas far from your jaw. If you're wondering why your acupuncturist is inserting needles in certain points, don't be afraid to ask.
How well does acupuncture work?
A British study tested the effectiveness of acupuncture using a double-blind study. One group of TMJ disorder suffers received real acupuncture, while the other group received sham acupuncture. Sham acupuncture is designed to make patients think they're getting real acupuncture; this allows researchers to evaluate the placebo effect. The study found that the people who received real acupuncture experienced a greater improvement in their pain than the other group did.
Harvard Medical School reports that multiple quality studies have shown that acupuncture can reduce chronic pain—all types of chronic pain, not just TMJ-related pain—by about 50%. Plus, acupuncture has fewer complications than pain medication, so it's worth a try.
What if you're scared of needles?
Acupuncture is virtually painless, but if you're scared of needles, you may not be excited about the thought of getting acupuncture, even if you think it will make your jaw feel better. Fortunately, acupressure can be used in cases like this.
Acupressure is similar to acupuncture in that it targets the same points on your body, but instead of using needles, your acupuncturist will apply firm pressure with his or her fingers. Acupressure is a weaker form of treatment, but for the truly needle-phobic, it's a good alternative to try.
If you're suffering from jaw pain due to TMJ disorder, make an appointment with an acupuncturist such as Health Atlast Fountain Valley to try an alternative treatment.