tmj and acupuncture

TMJ & Acupuncture

Temporomandibular joint & muscle disorders (TMJ syndrome) are a group of conditions that cause pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and the muscles that control jaw movement. I have successfully treated a large number of patients for “TMJ” in the past years. Call now if you suffer from pain in the jaw (also due to dental interventions and procedures). This TMJ & Acupuncture article gives the reader an overview of the etiology and treatment options.


The temporomandibular joint is the most complicated joint in the human body. It includes muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, bones and cartilage. Thus the TMJs have a unique structure which consists of two joints that connect the jawbone (mandible) to the skull (temporal bone) with the tendon and muscle attached to and surrounding the joint and ligaments which connect the two bones. The joints are a bilateral synovial articulation between the temporal bone of the skull above and the mandible below with an articular disk in between which separates the two joints and keeps the movement smooth. The joint acts like a sliding hinge allowing the jaw to move up and down and side to side for speaking, chewing, yawning etc.

TMJ and Acupuncture


The symptoms of TMJ syndrome may include: pain of the jaw, pain in one or both of the temporomandibular joints, aching in and around the ear, difficulty or pain while chewing, locking of the joint, and/or a clicking sound while chewing or moving the jaw.


The pathophysiology of TMJ syndrome is not fully understood. But researchers believe it is multifactorial and may arise from both local insults as well as systemic disorders. Thus local insult/injury can cause joint displacement, dislocated jaw, or injury to the condyle and the surrounding tissues due to factors such as inappropriate biting habits and teeth structure. Eventually, these can cause an internal derangement of the articulating disk and injury to the muscle, tendon, ligament, cartilage, bones and nerves. Eventually, this leads to the pain and symptoms associated with TMJ syndrome.


Not surprisingly, stress is thought to be a factor in TMJ. Mental stress  or physical stress such as conducting strenuous physical tasks often manifest in ways of clenching or grinding teeth which causes overuse of the TMJ tissues. Eventually, this results in tissue inflammation and injury leading to the development and aggravation of TMJ. Anxiety symptoms like tense muscles and jaw clenching can also ultimately cause TMJ.


Similarly, systemic disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis can also contribute to TMJ syndrome. These conditions can cause joint cartilage damage which can affect the TMJ. With osteoarthritis, enzymes such as matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are upregulated and break down the cartilage’s collagen network. With RA, the immune system attacks the lining of the joints causing inflammation which can damage cartilage as well as bone tissue.

In summary, risk factors that can increase the chance of developing TMJ syndrome include various types of arthritis, jaw injuries, long-term grinding of teeth, and certain connective tissue disorders that affect the temporomandibular joint.


In conclusion, it goes without saying that first an accurate diagnosis is necessary before designing a treatment plan for TMJ. TMJ & Acupuncture: usually regular acupuncture treatments as well as manual therapies are successful, complemented by healing ointments and wearing a mouth guard at night if tooth grinding or jaw clinching are present. Finally, for all the patients I successfully treated for TMJ the modalities were different and ranged from electro acupuncture to facial cupping. If you suffer from TMJ syndrome arrange a consultation now!


  1. Dietrich, Lia, Igor Vinícius Santos Rodrigues, Marcelo Dias Moreira de Assis Costa, Roberta Furtado Carvalho, and Gisele Rodrigues da Silva. 2020. “Acupuncture in Temporomandibular Disorders Painful Symptomatology: An Evidence-Based Case Report.” European Journal of Dentistry 14
  2. Fernandes, Ana Carla, Dayanne Monielle Duarte Moura, Laura Géssica Dantas Da Silva, Erika Oliveira De Almeida, and Gustavo Augusto Seabra Barbosa. 2017. “Acupuncture in Temporomandibular Disorder Myofascial Pain Treatment: A Systematic Review.” Journal of Oral & Facial Pain and Headache
  3. Fink, Matthias, Palle Rosted, Michael Bernateck, Meike Stiesch-Scholz, and Matthias Karst. 2006. “Acupuncture in the Treatment of Painful Dysfunction of the Temporomandibular Joint — a Review of the Literature.” Forschende Komplementarmedizin
  4. Grillo, Cássia Maria, Giancarlo De la Torre Canales, Ronaldo Seichi Wada, Marcelo Corrêa Alves, Célia Marisa Rizzatti Barbosa, Fausto Berzin, and Maria da Luz Rosário de Sousa. 2015. “Could Acupuncture Be Useful in the Treatment of Temporomandibular Dysfunction?” Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies
  5. Jung, Aram, Byung-Cheul Shin, Myeong Soo Lee, Hoseob Sim, and Edzard Ernst. 2011. “Acupuncture for Treating Temporomandibular Joint Disorders: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized, Sham-Controlled Trials.” Journal of Dentistry 
  6. Wei Labs Practitioner Content.

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Dr Arno Kroner