Facial Pain and TMJ Relief with Japanese Acupuncture

 

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:

  1. Using moist heat such as a hot water bottle or hot pack can be helpful.
  2. Eating soft foods and blending foods in a blender can give the jaw a chance to rest and heal.
  3. 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.
  4. Sleeping on your side with a pillow between the shoulders and neck.

Yours in health,

Cynthia

 

References:

  1. Matsumoto, Kiiko. (2014). Kiiko Matsumoto’s Clinical Strategies: In the Spirit of Master Nagano, Vol. 1 (6th ed.). Hanover, MA: J&R Graphics.
  2. (2016). Retrieved June 20, 2016, from https://bconroytc.wikispaces.com/Facial Pain (e.g. muscular, TMJ) – Kiiko Matsumoto Japanese Style

 

 

 

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Restore Your Nervous System

Yes you can do this! I know. You want to feel more relaxed as well as energized, more balanced some how. “Well if I could just get a week off work (every week) to lie on a beach in a tropical country I’d be great”. Yeah, I get it, our outer conditions are usually not as we would like. So we do our best to strengthen ourselves from within.

We all need a strong nervous system in modern life. Our nervous system may have taken some hits from stress, thinking too much or working too much and also from drug or alcohol abuse. Acupuncture often looks to the Heart and Kidney systems involvement when stress is the issue where there is Heart Fire (excess energy) often caused by Kidney Deficiency (weak Kidneys not controlling the heart-mind). Acupuncture can be used to calm an overactive (Yang excess) nervous system or the end result of chronic stress that often leads to is a depressed nervous system (Yang deficiency).

 

The way Japanese acupuncture works is to find the leaks in the system, to plug up the energy leaks in where our energy may be draining so we can keep more energy for ourselves, to live our life dreams. The acupuncturist will test reflex points using gentle pressure to find out what is imbalanced and apply what will get best results for your body. Since each person’s health history and constitution are unique, the advantage of using a more individualized approach using confirmation signs means less needling and faster results rather than applying a standardized formula for every case.

I work to make acupuncture is a deeply relaxing restorative and gentle experience for people. You have a quiet space all to yourself with some soothing music if you like, where you can rest, recharge and let the needles do their work.

Some things you can try today to soothe your nervous system are:

  1. Make it a goal.  When we do have time in our day to relax, we can set an intention to make it truly relaxing. Instead of filling our free time with too many distracting multi-tasking activities we can take it down a notch.  When eating for example, we can also create a peaceful space visually, energetically and with attention to our thoughts to allow ourself to stay in more peaceful, healthy energies.
  2. Winding down before bed.  We can improve sleep through relaxing before sleep by listening to soft peaceful music, meditation, taking a bath, or journaling to help let go of concerns of the day.
  3. Breathing exercises. There are some great ones you can find here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9jmO6xwFfs

I look forward to seeing you soon!

Yours in health,

Cynthia