Friday, January 21, 2011

Medical Treatments for TMJ

Alternative Medicines
What Choice Do I Have and Who Treats TMJ?

I have found it fascinating to discover how many different treatments there are for TMJ. I have tried to do justice and reveal all of them here but in my defense if I miss one or two it is only because I never heard of them. So contact me if there is one you would like to me add.

A special thanks goes to
Health & Wellness House
811 Rogers Close, Victoria, BC, V8X 5L5
Phone: (250) 592-6001
David Arnold, BESc, DSHomMed, RCSHom, RAc, RTCMP
ractitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Classical Homeopath
for allowing the use of the following:

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

The two main components of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) are Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine.

Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years and continues to be a reliable and effective treatment for many ailments. The technique involves inserting and manipulating very thin needles (single-use sterile stainless steel) into various points on the body. Some points are inserted locally to relax tense muscles, to reduce pain, or to accelerate healing of an affected area. Most points are located along energetic pathways called ‘meridians’. These meridians relate to all aspects of our body and mind, they regulate bodily functions as well as thoughts and emotions. Through various diagnostic methods the Practitioner is able to determine where ‘qi’ (or energy) running through them may be blocked, deficient, excessive, or simply where it needs balancing. Stimulation of these points and their corresponding functions leads to improved energy flow and overall balance throughout the body. This allows the body to be better able to heal itself, as well as maintain an increased state of health and vitality.

Chinese Herbs have been successfully used for thousands of years. They are prescribed either in decoction (cooked in water) or in powders, granules, pellets or tablets. They are most always combined together into a custom Formula that is specific to the patient’s illness and constitution.

There are also many other related therapies under the scope of TCM practice, including Acupressure, Tuina Massage, Moxabustion, Cupping, Gua Sha, Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Meditation.

Additional Treatments of TCM.
The same acu-points and treatment principles as acupuncture, but only finger pressure is used. This may be used in conjunction with an acupuncture treatment, or used alone for those who do not like needles.
The burning of Mugwort leaf on or over acupuncture points to warm and invigorate the meridians and channels.
Using a flame to heat the inside of a glass cup and applied to the body (commonly along the back) immediately creates a small vacuum as the air cools. The result is that the skin is gently pulled upward. The function is to move stasis and remove toxins or pathogens from the body. The cups may remain stationary or are moved to create a massage like experience.
Gua Sha:
Combined with massage oil, gentle scraping tools are used to stimulate the surface of the skin. It may be used as a diagnostic tool as well as for moving stagnant qi or blood.
Tuina Massage:
A form a Chinese massage that incorporates a variety of manipulation and kneading techniques, directed along meridians and energetic pathways.
Ear Seeds:
Reflex areas of the entire body are mapped on the ear. In this treatment, small seeds or pellets (gold/silver) are applied to the indicated points of the ear and may be left on for days at a time, acting as continuous stimulation for healing of the problem area.

Medical Massage for TMJ
Rub me the Right Way.

I have trouble lying on my front due to neck pain so I doubt this would work for me. Although I do like a good massage to relief tension and tight muscles.

TMJ and Physical Therapy.

Physiotherapy seems to consist of stretching and strengthening exercises for the face, head and neck muscles and and helping with relaxation. If you have a mouth guard or appliance these exercises can enhance their effectiveness.
A treatment program may include one or more of the following:
  • Stretching and strengthening exercises of the jaw, head and neck
  • Postural correction, relaxation and breathing exercises
  • Manual stretches and mobilizations of the jaw and neck joints
  • Laser, ultrasound and electrical stimulation to improve healing.
What's in that syringe, Doctor?

There are few clinical studies on the effectiveness of injection treatments and they are not approved by the FDA for treating TMJ Disorders. However, your health care provider may recommend injections treatments so be sure to ask what the basis is for recommending such a treatment.
You injection cocktail may be one of three drugs or substances.
Botulinum toxin type A (also known as Botox).
Research is under way to learn how Botox specifically affects jaw muscles and their nerves. The results of this research will let us know if this drug may be useful in treating TMJ disorders.
Steriod Injection (ie Cortisone).
According to The TMJ Association controversy still surrounds steroid injections as a treatment for TMJ disorders. Injections are used in reducing inflammation in cases of an acute flair-up of degenerative joint disease or rheumatoid arthritis. However, it is only a temporary measure and does not address the cause of the problem. If used too often the injections can actually cause degenerative joint changes which is like adding insult to injury.
Hyaluronan (also called hyaluronic acid).
This is sometimes used to treat osteoarthritis in the hips or knees, and is not approved by the FDA in treating TMJ.

Here is what The TMJ Association has to say about Prolotherapy:
"Prolotherapy (also known as sclerotherapy). Prolotherapy is a technique in which an irritating solution is injected into a ligament or muscle tendon near a painful area with the intent of inducing the proliferation of new cells and thus strengthening these structures, supporting the weakened muscles, and eliminating the pain. Although it has been used mainly to treat chronic low back pain, it has also been recommended for patients with temporomandibular disorders. However, there is no scientific evidence to show that weakened ligaments and tendons are the cause of pain in TMD patients, or to substantiate the effectiveness of this procedure in eliminating the pain. Moreover, there are no studies to show what these solutions actually do to the tissues. Therefore, prolotherapy should be avoided."


I hope you found something interesting on this page. There is one more medical treatment I want to tell you about but I will save it for another page because it is one I have experienced personally and I can tell you that there is hope for relief from TMJ pain. It will be called TMJ and IMS.
Look for my next post on Dental Prodecures for TMJ.

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