The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a hinge-like sliding joint that connects the jawbone to the skull. You have one on each side of your head, right in front of your ears. Like any other joint in the body, it has a small section of cartilage to prevent bone-on-bone rubbing as you move your jaw.
If you have pain or malfunction of this joint, the issue is simply referred to as “TMJ.” Underlying causes of TMJ include jaw injuries, nighttime bruxism (grinding of the teeth), and clenching of the teeth. Your dentist will likely advise you to stop chewing gum, sucking on hard candy and lollipops, and eating hard foods, because these actions can aggravate TMJ.
Pain from TMJ can make it difficult to open your mouth to talk or to eat. It can also lead to headaches and neck pain. Fortunately, relief from TMJ can be achieved through non-surgical treatments, and one of these treatments is trigger-point dry needling.
Let’s talk about how trigger-point therapy can help relieve TMJ, and where you can go in Austin for this revolutionary nonsurgical TMJ treatment.
Trigger Points and TMJ
Trigger points are tight areas of muscles that are tender and cause referred pain, and this referred pain can cause TMJ in some people. The tight knots of muscles feel sore when pressed or palpated.
Oftentimes, the stress from clenching and grinding your teeth can cause tightness in three muscles: the lateral pterygoid (responsible for helping open the mouth), the masseter (responsible for jaw movements for chewing), and the temporalis (responsible for opening and closing the mouth). If you have dry needling treatment in these muscles to treat your TMJ, the hair-thin needles are inserted into and around various trigger points of the jaw area. Each time, the needle is usually quickly removed.
This action penetrates the muscle fibers, stimulates a localized twitch response, and thereby causes the muscle to relax – inducing pain relief.
Dry needling can greatly reduce your jaw pain and can assist in improving your jaw’s range of motion and restoring your jaw function. Patients who undergo dry needling for TMJ may notice an improvement in the symptoms after a single session, but treatment usually takes several sessions to get the best results.
Trigger-Point Dry Needling for Jaw Pain
Dry needling to treat TMJ is administered by a licensed physical therapist. Before each session, the skin is cleaned with alcohol to prevent infection. The patient lies down in a comfortable position for ease of access to the jaw muscles.
The therapist may gently lift the skin or use a flat palpation method, and then insert the sterile filament needle into the skin. The needle is then removed, and the area is slightly compressed for a few seconds in order to prevent bleeding. You may feel your muscle relax right away, and your jaw pain should gradually subside.
Dry Needling for TMJ in Austin, TX
At Endeavor Physical Therapy & Wellness, we specialize in dry needling for relief from chronic pain of virtually all kinds – whether it’s due to an injury or muscle dysfunction. We usually recommend combining this method with other natural therapies for lasting pain relief.
If you have any questions about dry needling or would like to find out whether it can help you, schedule a consultation with one of our licensed physical therapists. Call our clinic today at (833) 215-9272 or fill out our online appointment request form. For your convenience, we have locations in Round Rock, Manor, Pflugerville, Cedar Park, Bee Cave, and Hutto, and we look forward to helping restore your jaw function.