Study Shows Acupuncture More Effective for TMJ Than Physical Therapy or Drugs

The spring, 2010, issue of the Journal of Orofacial Pain included a review of studies on the effectiveness of acupuncture for treating TMJ. The study concluded that acupuncture is more effective than physical therapy and medication in treating this disorder, and recommends more larger trials. The review also noted the absence of serious side effects in the acupuncture patients.

Here’s a video showing a normal temporomandibular joint (hence TMJ)

Here’s a video of a displaced TMJ that is clicking when it’s opening.

This video shows a TMJ disc with a thin attatchment.

I seen pleasing results with acupuncture in treating TMJ and other facial pain. I’ve used both standard TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) style of acupuncture, which is most commonly taught in the colleges and being used today, and Dr. Tan’s Balance Method of acupuncture. I’ve had satisfying results with both methods, but I see more immediate results using the Balance Method, with a more dramatic reduction in symptoms. Using the Balance Method, I expect to reduce pain on the first treatment.

For example, I recently treated a 25y woman (let’s call her Michelle) with TMJ pain for 3-4 yrs. Pain was in her jaw, radiating to the temples, neck & spine, causing lockjaw and ear-ringing. Pain could be excruciating in the evenings, and was worse with stress. At the time of treatment her pain level was a 4-5 (1-10 scale) i inserted 3 needles in Michelle’s wrist. Pain immediately disappeared in all areas. She no longer had ear congestion or ringing.

Acupuncture is a therapy, and a series of treatments is required. The number of treatments needed to eliminate the pain and symptoms varies, depending on the individual, and whether the condition is acute or chronic. For chronic pain a course of treatment (10-12) visits is usually required, acute pain responds faster and usually fewer treatments are needed to resolve the condition. I generally recommend weekly treatments. If pain is severe, or to see quicker results, twice a week is optimal in the beginning, for 2-3 weeks, until the pain level decreases and symptoms appear less frequently. When symptoms become intermittent, no longer on a daily basis I begin reducing the frequency to 10 days and later 2 weeks, then 3 week intervals to consolidate the treatment before discontinuing acupuncture when the condition is resolved. KB