It’s hard to smile at the world when your face is in pain.
But here’s some good news worth smiling over! Acupuncture is extremely effective in treating chronic pain, including facial pain.
Chronic facial pain arises from two common causes: trigeminal neuralgia and TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorders). Trigeminal neuralgia occurs with damage to any of the three branches of the trigeminal nerve. There are three areas of the face which are served by the trigeminal nerve, roughly corresponding to the forehead and eyebrow, the eye and cheek and upper jaw, and the lower jaw. Usually one sided, facial neuralgias can occasionally affect both sides of the face. Typically, the pain is extremely penetrating and intense, and can be triggered by movement of the facial muscles or touching a “trigger” point on the face or inside the mouth. While causes of trigeminal neuralgia are unclear, relief of pain with acupuncture is much more predictable and safe than treatment with drugs or surgery.
TMJ, (temporomandibular joint disorder) a disorder in the jaw joints, can arise from dental problems, mental stress, or neuromuscular disorders. Most people with TMJ problems have pain that comes and goes, but some have chronic (long-term) pain.
TMJ problems often cause these symptoms:
- Pain, particularly in the chewing muscles or jaw joint or an ache around your ear
- Limited movement or locking of the jaw
- Pain in the face, neck, or shoulders, or near the ear
- Clicking, popping, or grating sounds when opening your mouth
- Trouble chewing
- A sudden change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together
- Also, sometimes earaches, dizziness, and hearing problems
Among the many ways to treat TMJ, several studies show that acupuncture is very effective and relatively safe. In general, acupuncture stimulates the nervous system and causes the release of neurochemical messenger molecules. The resulting biochemical changes influence the body’s homeostatic mechanisms, thus promoting physical and emotional well-being.
A recent British study of 70 cases of dental patients receiving acupuncture for TMJ indicated that 85% of patients benefited with an average reduction in pain intensity of 75%. A 2008 study reported high long-term patient satisfaction and improvement of symptoms 18 to 20 years following acupuncture therapy.
Research has also shown that acupuncture may specifically help in the management of facial pain by acting on areas of the brain known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress, as well as promoting relaxation and deactivating the ‘analytical’ brain, which is responsible for anxiety and worry. Acupuncture works for both acute and chronic pain.
You can eliminate symptoms of TMJ with lifestyle changes — your health history will be discussed to discover which lifestyle habits to tweak in order to eliminate symptoms as well as applying acupuncture to key points that will relieve stress and restore energy circulation to the affected joints. Acupuncture can help to both relax these targeted muscles and decrease the overall stress level in the body to relieve TMJ discomfort.
For more information, please visit us at www.ctacupuncture.com
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Bergström I, List T, Magnusson T. A follow-up study of subjective symptoms of temporomandibular disorders in patients who received acupuncture and/or interocclusal appliance therapy 18-20 years earlier. Acta Odontol Scand. 2008 Apr. Vol. 66(2):88-92.
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