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Acupuncture and TMJ

Apr 29, 2011 | Health - Conditions

It’s finally Spring… the realm of the Wood element according to Chinese Medicine.  As you recall, the Chinese 5-elements incorporate the seasons (the extra being Late Summer/ Earth; I’ll address the Earth element more thoroughly later this summer).  But for now, it’s Spring and I welcome it in all its glory.

Most people I speak with are aching for Spring to arrive (both figuratively and physically).  I’ve often been asked why some people have a lot of bodily symptoms in Spring.  I find that my menopausal patients experience the most symptomatology this time of year.  Some of the cause of this is due to the universal Yang energy that is on the rise between early February and through the remainder of Spring.

As you may recall, Yin and Yang are foundational concepts in Chinese medicine.   Winter is the “Yinnest” of seasons.   By early February the Yang energy begins its rise.  If you were into maple syrup you would know that the sap starts rising in the trees in early February.  Wood/Spring is the energy of creation bursting forth.  For many women with depleted energy (which is often the case with menopausal women) Spring is like putting high octane gas into a low octane tank.

So what does all this have to do with TMJ?

TemporomandibularJointTemporomandibular joint and muscle disorders (TMJ disorders) are problems or symptoms of the chewing muscles and joints that connect your lower jaw to your skull.  Patients often find that chewing and biting becomes painful.  Some symptoms are as follows:

  • Clicking, popping, or grating sound when opening or closing the mouth
  • Dull, aching pain in the face
  • Earache (particularly in the morning)
  • Headache (particularly in the morning)
  • Hearing loss
  • Migraine (particularly in the morning)
  • Jaw pain or tenderness of the jaw
  • Reduced ability to open or close the mouth
  • Tinnitus
  • Neck and shoulder pain

The muscles and tendons are the tissues that fall within the realm of the Wood energy (the Spring season element).  The two meridians most often associated with this problem are called the Liver and the Gallbladder meridians, and it is often these two that have fallen out of harmony.   The acupuncturist is able to determine what kind of energetic imbalance is at play and causing the muscle/tendon issues.  Often time there is a condition called “Liver Yang rising,” which can contribute to the tension in the neck, shoulder, and facial/jaw muscles.

And recall,l we just spoke about the rising Yang energy associated with the Spring season.  Our body, mind, and spirit are inseparable from the seasons’ universal energy.  Acupuncture is extremely effective in resolving TMJ pain/symptoms.  Electrical stimulation (a painless and very pleasant current applied to the needles) is often helpful as well.

It’s usually stress that causes some people to begin to grind their teeth during sleep (and even unconsciously during waking hours).   The acupuncture will help relieve the imbalance that leads to this symptomatic reaction to stress.  In the case of TMJ, this rising excess energy which lodges in the jaw area is very responsive to acupuncture treatment.

I take insurance in my practice and look forward to serving you in my Catonsville and Tranquili-Chi Center office near Mt. Washington.

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