Could Traditional Chinese Medicine Benefit TMD Patients?

by Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Writer

Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) refers to a cluster of painful conditions in the jaw area. The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is a complex joint that allows for chewing, swallowing, and speaking.

Chronic pain in the TMJ is a common condition caused by a variety of medical problems. Various treatments for TMD have been tried with mixed results. The use of traditional Chinese medicine, meanwhile, for treating TMD appears to show promising results.

For example, in a 2010 study from Israel, 35 patients with TMJ disorder were treated using acupuncture in points around the TMJ region, head and neck, and upper and lower limbs. Major pain reduction was reported by more than 80 percent of the participants who were treated with acupuncture. The remaining 20 percent reported partial pain reduction. Five to eight acupuncture treatments were needed to achieve the results.

In 2012 study, researchers enrolled 168 adults who had been diagnosed with TMJ disorder into either a traditional Chinese medicine group or a self-care group. The traditional Chinese medicine intervention could include acupuncture, Chinese herbs, massage, and lifestyle counseling. The researchers found that traditional Chinese medicine provided significantly greater short-term pain relief than self-care. The researchers concluded that a "stepped-care, community-based approach using traditional Chinese medicine is safe and could offer short-term relief of pain and improved quality of life for patients with TMD."

Chinese medicine has been used effectively for centuries. However, the research geared specifically to its effectiveness with TMD is relatively new. Early results of what research we do have seem extremely promising.

Dr. Tracy Davenport is a health writer, advocate and entrepreneur who has been helping individuals live their best life. She is co-author of Making Life Better for a Baby with Acid Reflux. Follow Tracy’s love of smoothies on Twitter.

Tracy Davenport, Ph.D.
Meet Our Writer
Tracy Davenport, Ph.D.

Davenport is the founder of Using the latest scientific research, she helps people live their healthiest lives via one-on-one coaching, corporate talks, and sharing the more than 1,000 health-related articles she's authored.