Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD) The temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are the two hinge joints that connect the lower jaw (mandible) to the temporal bone of the skull. Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) occur from problems with jaw muscles, temporomandibular joints, and the nerves associated with chronic facial pain. Often TMD is the result of excessive strain on the jaw joints and the muscle group that controls chewing, swallowing, and speech. Frequently this is due to habitual and involuntary grinding or clenching of the teeth which leads to prolonged pressure on the temporomandibular joints. Stress can also cause tightening of the facial and jaw muscles, which contributes to the development of jaw pain or tension. Sometimes there can be the presence of arthritis and displacement of the jaw joint disks which can cause TMD pain. It’s also possibly to develop dysfunction in the temporomandibular joints after injury to the jaw, temporomandibular joints, or muscles of the head and neck, such as from direct trauma (i.e. contact sports) or whiplash. Symptoms are typically pain or tenderness in the face, temporomandibular joint area, neck, and in or around the ears while chewing, speaking, or opening the mouth wide. There can be a limited ability to open the mouth wide. For some, the jaw becomes “stuck” or “locks” in either open- or closed- mouth position. Other symptoms may include clicking, popping, or grating sounds in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth, which may or may not be accompanied by pain. TMD may be experienced on one or both sides of the face. There could also be swelling on the affected side. For some, there can also be difficulty chewing or a sudden feeling of misalignment with the upper and lower teeth. Additional symptoms may consist of headaches, pain behind the eyes, earaches or ringing in the ears (not due to internal ear infection), dizziness, and sensitivity of the teeth. TMD will most often be diagnosed by a doctor based on presentation of symptoms and/or by a dentist who will see evidence of teeth grinding and jaw dysfunction. Western medicine treatment usually involves resting the temporomandibular joints, taking pain relievers, wearing a mouthguard, and potentially surgery. There are a few specific ways that acupuncture can address the symptoms of TMD. Acupuncture in general has ability to lower stress by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. By using facial motor points, acupuncture can return flaccid muscles to its functional state. Submuscular needling, especially on the masseter and temporalis muscles, can help to reduce muscle tension in the involved overworked muscles. Scalp acupuncture, which has proven to be incredibly effective with restoring facial movement for patients with post-stroke facial paralysis, is another way to address TMD. Other modalities that may be part of an acupuncture treatment to address TMD symptoms include facial cupping, facial gua sha, and gentle neurovascular release techniques.
Source: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/ temporomandibular-disorder-tmd
Source: Michelle Gellis, Facial Acupuncture Classes, Module 5 Advanced Protocols
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Source: Anatomy trains, Reclaiming Your Livelihood: Neurovascular Release for the Jaw and Head with Kristin Schumaker