Jaw and TMJ Dysfunction: Approaches to Management in Western and Chinese Medicine

(Organ names in Chinese medicine differ from Western medicine’s understanding).​

Jaw and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction is a common condition that affects the joint connecting the jawbone to the skull. Western medicine understands that this condition may occur due to a variety of factors such as injury, arthritis, or bruxism (teeth grinding), leading to pain and discomfort in the jaw, neck, and face. Treatment approaches include physical therapy, pain relievers, and anti-inflammatory medications. However, it is important to seek a professional opinion from a Western doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), jaw and TMJ dysfunction is considered to be a result of the stagnation of Qi (vital energy) and blood in the TCM-Meridian network of the face, head, and neck. This stagnation may be caused by external factors such as wind and cold, or internal factors such as stress, anxiety, or a poor diet. TCM treatment approach aims to promote the flow of Qi and blood, thereby relieving pain and restoring function.

Acupuncture, a common TCM modality, can be used to stimulate specific acupuncture points in the affected area to promote circulation and alleviate pain. Cupping therapy, which involves the use of suction cups to create a vacuum effect on the skin, can also be applied to improve blood flow and relax the muscles in the affected area. Chinese herbal medicine may be used to address the underlying causes of the condition, such as stress or poor diet, to prevent recurrence.

To manage jaw and TMJ dysfunction effectively, a complementary approach that incorporates both Western and TCM can be helpful. Western approaches may provide symptomatic relief, while TCM approaches may address the root cause of the condition. Combining these approaches may result in a more comprehensive and holistic management plan, tailored to the individual needs of the patient.


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