Did you know that it is estimated that up to 10% of the population lives with TMJ?
If that is you, getting relief from your symptoms can often be on your mind. There are many choices that can help reduce the severity of your symptoms associated with TMJ.
Have you thought of trying acupuncture?
In this article, we will look at what TMJ is, what research there is for TMJ for acupuncture, how it works, how many sessions to expect, costs, FAQ, acupuncture points for TMJ, and so much more.
Let’s get started . . .
What is TMJ?
Can acupuncture help with teeth clenching? YES! It can! Why are we asking about teeth clenching? How is that connected to TMJ?
When a person grinds their teeth or clenches their teeth, they are essentially adding to the level of stress and tension placed on their jaw muscles.
Both of these are considered factors that add to the pain experienced by Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) and involves the Temporomandibular joint and the muscles that control jaw movement. However, it is most often just referred to as TMJ.
The main signs and symptoms of TMJ are:
- Clicking of the jaw
- Acute myofascial pain
- Chronic myofascial pain
- Oral masticatory muscle pain
- Tenderness of the masticatory muscles
- Abnormal jaw movements
Now that we have an idea of what TMJ is, let’s take a look at what the research says about acupuncture and TMJ. . .
Does Acupuncture Help with TMJ?
The short answer? Yes!
How effective is acupuncture for TMJ? That’s what’s explored next. . .
Does Acupuncture Work for TMJ?
A study that was published in 2017 evaluated acupuncture as a management treatment option to manage the symptoms of TMJ in adults.
With 231 participants, the study concluded that ‘… conventional acupuncture therapy is effective in reducing the degree of pain in patients with TMD [TMJ], especially those with myofascial pain symptoms.’
Interestingly, two years earlier, in 2015, another study looked at the effectiveness and impact ear acupuncture has on the symptoms of TMJ.
Yes, there is a type of acupuncture that focuses on acupuncture points solely in the ears. Let’s take a look next at what research has shown and how it can help relieve the symptoms and pain of TMJ. . .
Ear Acupuncture for TMJ
Auricular acupuncture, also known as ear acupuncture, has been shown to be helpful and effective in relieving the symptoms of TMJ. The needles are inserted into key points within the ear.
The effectiveness of Auricular acupuncture for TMJ was researched through a study published in the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Journal concluded that “…in short-term treatment, ear acupuncture adjunct therapy has reduced pain symptoms of muscle and joint TMD, more rapidly and more significantly than isolated occlusal therapy.”
The study supported up its conclusion with results that participants of the study also experienced a significant reduction in TMJ symptoms.
How Many Sessions?
In 2009, Shen found that a single acupuncture session reduced most of the myofascial pain endpoints of TMD or TMJ.
Now you may find that you benefit from more sessions. For example, when evaluating ear acupuncture for TMJ, the study recommended five weekly acupuncture sessions at 50 minutes a session.
Each person is different, and it is always recommended that you discuss with your acupuncturist the number of sessions and frequency recommended just for you and your health needs.
Costs per acupuncture treatment vary based on your location, possible discounts that the practitioner offers, and if your insurance covers it or not.
For your first acupuncture session, you will most likely have a consultation and medical exam as well as the acupuncture treatment, so it will probably cost about $120 to $240 for that first session. This is an estimate.
Treatments after that may cost around $75 to $160 per session.
Here are some average costs per session based on the city for acupuncture treatments without insurance:
- New York City: $300
- Phoenix: $75
- Los Angeles: $120
- Denver: $125
- Las Vegas: $70
- San Francisco: $150
- Miami: $120
- Chicago: $95
- Houston: $160
Packaged sessions are one way to potentially save on the costs of acupuncture. For example, Many acupuncturists often offer discounts for multiple sessions bought at once, for example, if you paid for six sessions at once and then used them over time.
You may also want to consider community acupuncture as a way to locate a low-cost option for acupuncture in your area.
Frequently asked questions
Does acupuncture work for TMJ?
Yes, acupuncture does work for TMJ based on the studies and trials that have been conducted.
Does Medicare cover TMJ?
No, Medicare doesn’t cover acupuncture for TMJ. The only condition Medicare will cover acupuncture for is chronic low back pain.
How often should I get acupuncture for TMJ?
It is advisable to discuss the frequency of your acupuncture treatments for neuropathy with a professional acupuncturist in your area.
Acupuncture Points for TMJ
Depending on your personal needs and evaluation by your acupuncturist, there are many different acupuncture points that may be selected when treating TMJ.
However, in 2009 it was researched and concluded that “… One acupoint at Hegu large intestine 4 significantly reduced most myofascial pain endpoints when compared to sham acupuncture.”
Ear Acupuncture Points for TMJ
For ear acupuncture for TMJ, the most common Auricular acupuncture points used according to this one study are:
- Shen Men
There are many complementary and alternative (CAM) therapies that may help with TMJ, including:
- Guided imagery and visualization
- Massage Therapy
- Yoga Therapy
- Craniosacral Therapy
Before getting started with acupuncture for TMJ, be sure to talk with your physician or medical professional about getting a proper medical diagnosis and what treatment recommendations are appropriate for your condition.
Work with a professional acupuncturist in your area to determine how acupuncture may best help you and the frequency of treatment that’s right for you.
DeBar, L. L., Vuckovic, N., Schneider, J., & Ritenbaugh, C. (2003). Use of complementary and alternative medicine for temporomandibular disorders. Journal of orofacial pain, 17(3), 224–236.Retrieved November 5, 2020, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14520768/
Ferreira, L. A., Grossmann, E., Januzzi, E., Gonçalves, R. T., Mares, F. A., de Paula, M. V., & Carvalho, A. C. (2015). Ear Acupuncture Therapy for Masticatory Myofascial and Temporomandibular Pain: A Controlled Clinical Trial. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2015, 342507. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/342507
Shen, Y. F., Younger, J., Goddard, G., & Mackey, S. (2009). Randomized clinical trial of acupuncture for myofascial pain of the jaw muscles. Journal of orofacial pain, 23(4), 353–359.
Wu, J. Y., Zhang, C., Xu, Y. P., Yu, Y. Y., Peng, L., Leng, W. D., Niu, Y. M., & Deng, M. H. (2017). Acupuncture therapy in the management of the clinical outcomes for temporomandibular disorders: A PRISMA-compliant meta-analysis. Medicine, 96(9), e6064. https://doi.org/10.1097/MD.0000000000006064
U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Acupuncture. (n.d.). Retrieved October 20, 2020, from https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/acupuncture