Greetings Dear Readers,
Has your dentist told you that you are clenching your teeth at night? Do you have facial or jaw pain when you wake up in the morning? Does your jaw hurt when you eat or speak? If so, there is relief.
Generally speaking, TMJ (Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders) issues are a set of conditions that manifest as pain in the jaw joint and surrounding muscles that can lead to pain when eating, speaking, chewing, laughing and even breathing.
In the Western medical sense, it is known that TMJ disorders may involve myofascial pain (most cases), structural damage such as dislocated jaw or condyle injury, or arthritic changes impacting the TMJ joint. These causes have been studied and elaborated on further by Master Japanese acupuncturist, Kiiko Matsumoto.
When it comes to myofascial pain, people often have pain at the front of the face where the Stomach channel lies as well as inflammation or heat in the Stomach channel that is indicated with pain at Stomach 41 when pressed. The patient will often show fissures or cracks at the centre of the tongue (Stomach area in TCM), and may also complain of issues relating to Stomach Qi such as ulcers, weakened immune system, anxiety, sensitivity to gravitational or barometric shifts such as being in an airplane, weather changes and time zone shifts, motion sickness, stomach flu and certain problems with pregnancy. Acupuncture treatment here involves regulating the Stomach Qi, often strengthening Stomach Yin and clearing any Stomach channel Heat.
In terms of structural imbalance, Kiiko outlined how at the root of the matter there is often a sphenoid bone imbalance causing an improper alignment. The patient may have pain on palpation of the temporal area, inguinal ligament or just below the navel. They may also have other sphenoid bone imbalance-related issues such as ear problems, headaches, dental problems, or sleep problems such as sleep apnea. A sphenoid bone imbalance may affect the pituitary gland that lies in the centre of the bone causing a hormonal imbalance. Acupuncture treatment here involves supporting proper alignment the bone, as well as correcting the pituitary imbalance.
Finally, issues with degeneration of the bone itself fall into the category of Kidney Essence Deficiency that is most often seen in older adults or those with a constitutional weakness. This may also be associated with symptoms such as insomnia, slow wound healing, skin rashes such as eczema, inguinal ligament pain and temporal headaches. Treatment in this case involves supporting proper bone alignment as well as strengthening the Kidney system.
Acupuncture treatment can go along way to preventing as well as healing TMJ by relieving the underlying patterns. Treatment will often be weekly for a few weeks or months depending on the severity and how long the condition has gone on for.
In the meantime, a few self-care tips:
- Using moist heat such as a hot water bottle or hot pack can be helpful.
- Eating soft foods and blending foods in a blender can give the jaw a chance to rest and heal.
- Relaxation and stress reduction techniques such as guided relaxation such as that found at the end of yoga classes and breathing meditations to calm the mind.
- Sleeping on your side with a pillow between the shoulders and neck.
Yours in health,
- Matsumoto, Kiiko. (2014). Kiiko Matsumoto’s Clinical Strategies: In the Spirit of Master Nagano, Vol. 1 (6th ed.). Hanover, MA: J&R Graphics.
- (2016). Retrieved June 20, 2016, from https://bconroytc.wikispaces.com/Facial Pain (e.g. muscular, TMJ) – Kiiko Matsumoto Japanese Style