Can individuals with jaw pain find relief in acupuncture therapy to reduce pain and improve jaw mobility in the upper body portions?
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The head is part of the upper musculoskeletal body quadrant supported by the neck area, which consists of the skull, various muscles, and vital organs that provide stability, mobility, and functionality. Around the head, the different facial features include the mouth, nose, eyes, and jaw to allow the host to eat, speak, smell, and see. While the head provides sensory and motor function, the neck includes motor stability to ensure no injuries or trauma affect the head. Located below the eyes is the jaw, which allows motor function with various muscles and joints to hyperextend without pain or discomfort. However, multiple factors can affect the jaw muscles and joints to invoke pain and discomfort, which can cause radiating referred pain down to the neck muscles. Today’s article looks at how jaw pain can affect the upper body, how non-surgical treatments can help with jaw pain, and how treatments like acupuncture can help restore jaw mobility. We talk with certified medical providers who consolidate our patients’ information to provide treatments to reduce jaw pain affecting their jaw and neck area. We also inform and guide patients on how acupuncture and non-surgical treatments can benefit many individuals with pain correlating with the jaw. We encourage our patients to ask their associated medical providers intricate and important questions about how their pain affects their quality of life and reduces jaw pain. Dr. Jimenez, D.C., includes this information as an academic service. Disclaimer.
Jaw Pain Affecting The Upper Body
Do you feel muscle soreness in your jaw and neck muscles throughout the day? Have you constantly rubbed or massaged your jaw muscles to reduce tension? Or have you been dealing with headaches or neck pain continually that affects your daily routine? Many individuals experiencing these pain-like symptoms are dealing with jaw pain or TMJ (temporomandibular joint syndrome). The jaw consists of mastication muscles on each side that help provide various functions like chewing, swallowing, or talking. When multiple traumatic or ordinary factors start to affect the jaw, it can disrupt the sensory-motor function of the upper body. For individuals, jaw pain is common worldwide, and with TMJ, it can become an issue as the pain seems to affect the jaw’s motor control while being accompanied by restricted mouth opening and impaired max bite force. (Al Sayegh et al., 2019) Additionally, TMJ affects not only the mastication muscles but also the temporomandibular joint, the joint that connects the jaw to the skull, which becomes inflamed and causes more issues.
So, how would TMJ affect the upper body? Well, when TMJ affects the mastication muscles and the temporomandibular joint, many individuals will experience various symptoms like:
- Difficulty moving mouth when chewing
- Popping/cracking sensation when opening or closing the jaw
- Ear pain
- Tooth pain
- Neck and shoulder pain
This causes myofascial and intraarticular disorders that affect the muscles and joints of the jaw, which are linked to the skull. (Maini & Dua, 2024) To that point, many individuals will be experiencing referred pain, thinking they are dealing with a toothache when it is due to trigger points in the mastication muscles. This is when TMJ is accompanied by muscle-joint pain in the neck or upper back or if teeth issues accompany TMJ, but it depends on the individual and situation they are under. However, numerous treatments can reduce jaw pain and its associated symptoms that affect the jaw and the neck.
The Non-Surgical Approach To Wellness- Video
Non-Surgical Treatments For Jaw Pain
When reducing jaw pain, many individuals seek treatment to minimize the pain-like effects and regain mobility back to their jaws. It can be challenging and complex when people are dealing with jaw pain. It is a multifactorial issue that can affect the neck and back areas. So, when people speak with their primary doctors about their jaw pain, they will get an evaluation of where their pain is located and if they have any complaints correlating with the jaw pain. Afterward, many doctors will refer to musculoskeletal specialists to relieve the jaws’ pain. Treatments and techniques used by chiropractors, massage therapists, and physiotherapists can help ease the inflamed and tense mastication muscles. Techniques like soft tissue mobilization can help relax the masticatory muscles by lengthening them to the extent of releasing the trigger points in the muscles. (Kuc et al., 2020) At the same time, physiotherapy can help the jaw muscle through various relaxing techniques to increase the range of motion while strengthening the jaw to reduce pain and stress. (Byra et al., 2020) Many of these treatments are non-surgical, which means they are non-invasive and effective for the person’s pain while affordable.
Acupuncture To Restore Jaw Mobility
When it comes to non-surgical treatments, one of the oldest forms is acupuncture, which can help reduce the pain-like effects of jaw pain and restore mobility. Acupuncture originates from China, and highly trained medical professionals use thin, solid needles to be placed in acupoints on the body to disrupt the pain signal and provide relief. For jaw pain, acupuncturists will put needles on the acupoints of the jaw or the surrounding muscles to reduce mechanical hypersensitivity of the nerve cells that are causing pain while improving the sensory-motor function with a positive response. (Teja & Nareswari, 2021) Additionally, when dealing with ear pain associated with TMJ affecting the neck muscles, acupuncture can help enhance the neck’s range of motion by placing the needles on the trigger points of the cervical muscles. (Sajadi et al., 2019) When acupuncture treatment helps many individuals with jaw pain affecting their necks and heads, they can provide beneficial, positive results through consecutive treatment and improve jaw mobility function.
Al Sayegh, S., Borgwardt, A., Svensson, K. G., Kumar, A., Grigoriadis, A., & Christidis, N. (2019). Effects of Chronic and Experimental Acute Masseter Pain on Precision Biting Behavior in Humans. Front Physiol, 10, 1369. doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2019.01369
Byra, J., Kulesa-Mrowiecka, M., & Pihut, M. (2020). Physiotherapy in hypomobility of temporomandibular joints. Folia Med Cracov, 60(2), 123-134. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/33252600
Kuc, J., Szarejko, K. D., & Golebiewska, M. (2020). Evaluation of Soft Tissue Mobilization in Patients with Temporomandibular Disorder-Myofascial Pain with Referral. Int J Environ Res Public Health, 17(24). doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17249576
Maini, K., & Dua, A. (2024). Temporomandibular Syndrome. In StatPearls. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31869076
Sajadi, S., Forogh, B., & ZoghAli, M. (2019). Cervical Trigger Point Acupuncture for Treatment of Somatic Tinnitus. J Acupunct Meridian Stud, 12(6), 197-200. doi.org/10.1016/j.jams.2019.07.004
Teja, Y., & Nareswari, I. (2021). Acupuncture Therapies for Addressing Post Odontectomy Neuropathy. Med Acupunct, 33(5), 358-363. doi.org/10.1089/acu.2020.1472
The information herein on "Can Acupuncture Help Ease Jaw Pain? Everything You Need to Know" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
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