Thursday, April 14, 2016
Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) issues are very common in our high stress society. TMJ symptoms can include tension in the jaw, clicking, pain and severe restriction with opening the mouth. TMJ can cause problems with eating, speaking and...other things. It can range from mildly uncomfortable to severely impairing. Aside from pain killers (which are temporary and can be addicting) allopathic medicine doesn't have a lot to offer. Acupuncture can not only treat the symptoms of TMJ, but can also address a common cause--stress.
Some forms of TMJ can be due to a misaligned jaw. If that is the case, then you should get checked out by a dentist who specializes in TMJ so that they can work to realign your jaw and how your teeth line up. However, even with this type of TMJ, acupuncture can help with pain management by releasing tension in the musculature of the jaw.
Many times TMJ is caused by emotional stress, especially in people who struggle with expressing their emotions.Teeth grinding and clenching when you are awake or asleep are signs that you have unexpressed stress. When you "hold your tongue," your feelings get trapped inside. Because emotions are a type of energy they need to go somewhere and often they get lodged in the jaw. This lack of expression causes Qi stagnation (stuck energy) where the Qi is no longer flowing properly through the mouth. According to Traditional Chinese Medical Theory, when Qi stagnates, you have pain. "When there is pain, there is no free flow; when there is free flow, there is no pain." Acupuncture uses tiny needles placed into specific points on face and jaw to relax the muscles and restore the flow of Qi and blood; this releases the stagnation and therefore reduces or eliminates the pain. Acupuncture is also known for its powerful effect on the nervous system which can reduce or eliminate your feelings of stress.
Another technique that will soothe a painful jaw is Moxibustion. This specialized heat therapy offers gentle, soothing, deeply penetrating heat to relax the tight jaw muscles, create more movement and less pain in the jaw. To read more about Moxibustion, click here.
Something you can do on your own to release jaw tension is a yoga technique called Simhasana, or Lion's Breath. It looks funny, but feels great. As you inhale squish up your face making it as tight as possible. As you exhale through your mouth making a "haaaa" sound, open your eyes and mouth and stick out your tongue as if you were trying to touch your chin with your tongue. If you'd like to see a picture of Lion's Breath, click here. Lion's Breath is a great release for the jaw and when practiced regularly is great for maintaining a more relaxed jaw.
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