Do you experience pain while enjoying your favorite food, wake up with a sore jaw, or are unable to open or close your mouth comfortably? If this is your case, then Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) dysfunction could be the main culprit behind your discomfort. Luckily, for those struggling with TMJ disorders, acupuncture for jaw pain is highly effective in alleviating the inflammation, discomfort, and pain that is generally associated with this issue.
Individuals with acute pain can find instant relief in a few treatments, whereas chronic conditions require several treatments for several weeks. Jaw pain is something that should not be taken lightly and has to be treated as early as possible. Otherwise, it may take a toll on your facial muscles and even make smiling a painful action.
What is TMJ?
Temporomandibular Joint disorders refer to several conditions affecting the jaw joints or the temporomandibular joints. These joints are bilaterally situated on the face, in front of the ears, linking the jaw bone to the skull. These joints are complex and allow movements in different directions.
For certain people, temporomandibular disorders (TMD) may be caused by an injury such as a car crash or a head trauma. Although for most, these issues emerge without any specific reason. Many individuals do things on a regular basis or have underlying factors that may induce or lead to the development of temporomandibular disorders, also known as TMJ.
Teeth grinding, chewing gum, too much stress, and even arthritis may lead to TMD. Some of the most common symptoms of TMD or TMJ are:
- Muffled hearing
- Pain when chewing
- Dental pain
- Chipped or worn teeth
- Jaw clicking
- Neck pain
- Difficulty moving the jaw
Acupuncture for Jaw Pain and TMJ
Traditional treatments for TMJ include eating soft meals, taking pain killers, and using hot or cold packs. Usually, mouth guards and physiotherapy are also recommended. In some instances, specialized dental procedures can also be advised. At the end, when nothing seems to be working, steroid injections and jaw surgery may be required. Sadly, the efficacy of these treatments has a minimal effect on TMJ.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that includes acupuncture, can be a better alternative. Acupuncture for jaw pain may be extremely helpful for people with TMJ or TMD. Various studies show that acupuncture can relieve pain and discomfort caused by TMJ.
TMJ acupuncture points lower the sensation of pain by actively stimulating the nerves that send signals to the brain. They help promote the production of endorphins and neurotransmitters in the body. These are naturally occurring compounds that tend to reduce and inhibit the sensation of pain by the brain.
Acupuncture for jaw pain has also been found to help relieve stress, which is often linked with painful conditions such as TMJ. When in a state of stress, our brain releases a hormone known as cortisol. Too much of this hormone can change the way the brain interprets pain and can also induce involuntary muscle spasms in the jaw muscles. This can lead to intense pain in the temporomandibular joints.
Introducing the acupuncture needles right into the core of the jaw muscle can also trigger a muscle spasm that can help release the tension in the muscle, enabling it to recover. As soon as the muscle stiffness is reduced, so too is the tightness and pain.
The Best TMJ Acupuncture Points
If you or someone you love is dealing with jaw pain or TMJ, try using these acupuncture points for TMJ disorder. It is a much better and safer option that offers long-term relief and, at the same time, can also enhance your overall wellbeing.
You can also activate these pressure points yourself at home with acupressure using the thumb and fingertips instead of needles to enjoy the benefits. Here are some of the best TMJ Acupuncture Points to relieve jaw pain and inflammation for good.
Acupoint: ST-6 (Other Names: Stomach-6/Jia Che/Jaw Bone)
This is one of the most effective facial TMJ acupuncture points that help to alleviate jaw discomfort and pain associated with TMJ disorders. Also known as the Jaw Bone, this point is situated between the upper and lower jaw, on the jaw muscle that protrudes when the molars are squeezed. This point is also helpful for the treatment of inflammation of the cheeks, facial pain or numbness, and twitching of the facial muscles.
Other usages of ST-6: Everything You Need To Know About How To Sleep With A Toothache
Acupoint: TE-17 (Other Names: Triple Energizer-17/Yi Feng/Wind Screen)
It is an excellent point to ease the strain of the jaw and is found in the depression below the earlobe. Also known as the Wind Screen, this point can be activated by putting gentle pressure below each earlobe using your fingers.
This point helps relax the facial muscles and is helpful for the treatment of ear pain, facial convulsions, jaw pain, frozen jaw, toothache, and facial paralysis.
Acupoint: SI-19 (Other Names: Small Intestine-19/Ting Gong/Palace of Hearing)
It is a vital point used in acupuncture for jaw pain and is also used in acupressure to treat a wide variety of health conditions. Also known as the Listening Palace, this point is situated right in front of the hole in the ear, in an indentation that expands when the mouth is opened.
This point can be activated by squeezing the middle fingers on this point on both sides of the face for 1 minute while taking deep breaths. This is incredibly helpful for TMJ disorders, toothache, ear issues, hearing loss, tinnitus, and hearing problems.
Acupoint: TE-21 (Other Names: Triple Energizer-21/Er Men/Ear Gate)
Also known as the Ear Gate, this pressure point is also useful in the treatment of jaw and dental problems. It is positioned a one-half inch above SI19 on each side of the face. Both SI19 and TW21 can be triggered at the same time by pressing them both using your fingers. This acupuncture point for TMJ disorder helps to relieve headache, toothache, TMJ symptoms, ear pain, and inflammation inside the ear.
Acupoint: GB-2 (Other Names: Gallbladder-2/Ting Hui/Meeting of Hearing)
This fundamental point is positioned one-half inch below the SI19 point. It is especially useful in the treatment of ear conditions such as tinnitus and loss of hearing, including TMJ disorders, toothache, and facial paralysis.
In TCM, TMJ often relates to an imbalance in the liver and gallbladder meridians that pass over the locations usually associated with gallbladder and TMJ pain. Acupuncture for jaw pain targets these areas and promotes the recovery process and restores the balance between the meridians and the body, in effect easing the symptoms of TMJD.
Acupoint: GB-20 (Other Names: Gallbladder-20/Feng Chi/Wind Pool)
GB20 is a useful point for jaw pain situated at the neck, below the base of the skull, 2 to 3 inches apart. This point can be activated by pressing the points for 2 minutes while you take long and deep breaths.
This point is effective for the treatment of jaw pain and is also a focal point for pain in the neck, stiff neck, and headache. Additionally, this point is also used to treat colds, nasal congestion, eye problems, and vertigo.
Related Reading: Improve your immune system with GB-20
Acupoint: GB-1 (Other Names: Gallbladder-1/Tong Zi Liao/Pupil Crevice)
This is a crucial facial acupressure point found in the vicinity of the eye, on the side of the face. This point is also called the Pupil Bone Hole and is the most effective acupressure point for all forms of eye conditions. It can be activated by putting pressure on the specific acupoints on each side of the face using the fingers.
Activation of this point can be paired with jaw muscle exercises to treat facial paralysis and Bell's palsy. It is also used for the treatment of headaches and inflammation.
Acupoint: SI-18 (Other Names: Small Intestine-18/Quanliao/Cheek Bone Crevice)
Also known as the Cheek Bone Hole, this point is situated at the bottom edge of the cheekbone, downwards from the outer corner of the eye and across the lower edge of the nose. This point can be activated by putting soft yet firm pressure on the acupoint for 1 minute using the fingers. This point is beneficial in relieving the twitching of the eyelids, facial palsy, toothache, and swelling of the cheek.
Try Ear Seeds to Help Ease Your Jaw Pain
Another form of acupuncture, called Ear Acupressure, uses ear seeds to activate pressure points in the ear to positively impact various disorders. Ear seeds are a viable alternative to acupuncture as they restore balance to the "qi" or energy in your body so they can relieve pain, anxiety, stress, including TMJ and jaw pain, and help you quit smoking and lose weight. You can find out more about the background of ear seeds here.
Here is the ear seeds placement chart for TMJ:
Rather than merely covering up the symptoms of TMJ, acupuncture for jaw pain aims to fix the root cause of the issue. In the case of TMJ or jaw pain, this may include stress, muscle stiffness, or trauma. In a single treatment, acupuncture can address these conditions as well as the complications associated with it, including pain, anxiety, earaches, and vertigo. If that's not enough motivation to give it a try, acupuncture also offers an additional advantage of minimizing stress and boosting the immune system.