Acupuncture is an ancient form of Chinese medicine involving the insertion of very fine needles into the skin at specific points on the body to achieve a therapeutic effect.
Acupuncture is used to encourage natural healing, improve mood and energy, reduce or relieve pain and improve function of affected areas of the body.. Acupuncture has been shown to increase therapeutic outcomes when used in conjunction with other modalities (ie. Massage Therapy, Chiropractic care, Physiotherapy).
Acupuncture needles are solid, stainless steel, sterile and only used once and discarded immediately. The needles are very fine, flexible and rounded but sharp at the tip. They are ‘atraumatic’, meaning that they do not have a cutting edge like a hypodermic needle, which slices through tissue. Their design allows acupuncture needles to slide smoothly through tissues and makes them unlikely to cause bleeding or damage to underlying structures.
Acupuncture points are places on the skin that have a lower resistance to the passage of electricity than the surrounding skin and are part of a network of points that were mapped centuries ago by the Chinese. Most are found along ‘meridians’ or ‘channels’ that are believed to be the pathways by which vital life energy or Qi (pronounced ‘Chee’) flows through the body. When qi is blocked or deficient you can experience stress, pain or discomfort. Acupuncture to remediate qi and restore a balance in the body.
A dull, heavy, or aching feeling often occurs when the needle is correctly placed. This is referred to as ‘de Qi’ and is a sensation that is sought out. The needles are left in place for 15-30 minutes may be manipulated to strengthen or reduce the flow of Qi.
Why use Acupuncture to Treat the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ)?
While there are numerous ways to effectively treat temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, acupuncture has been shown in several well-designed studies to be very effective and safe. 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%. (*1)As well, a 2008 study reported high long-term patient satisfaction and improvement of symptoms 18 to 20 years following acupuncture and/or interocclusal appliance (bite plate or splint) therapy.(*2) Acupuncture combined with other modalities increases the therapeutic outcome from a clients concerns.
*1 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.
*2 Rosted P, Bundgaard M, Pedersen AM. The use of acupuncture in the treatment of temporomandibular dysfunction--an audit. Acupunct Med. 2006 Mar. Vol. 24(1):16-22.
Acupuncture techniques also used:
• Developed by Dr. Paul Nogier, Auricular Acupuncture views the ear as a ‘micro system’, meaning that there is a point on the ear that represents every part of the body affecting the musculoskeletal, endocrine, nervous, and organ systems. Needles may be used for auricular acupuncture treatments. Often acupuncture practitioners will use ear seeds (seeds from the Vaccaria plant). They are held in place on the ear with a small piece of adhesive tape. Ear seeds may be left in the ear for a few days or up to two weeks after your appointment to provide a low level of stimulation at a particular point and extend the benefit of your acupuncture treatment.
• Electro-Acupuncture is described when needles are electrically stimulated by various frequencies and voltages by attachment to a battery-powered machine using wires with small clips on the ends. By using low frequency stimulation (2-4 Hz) for instance, a slow onset of pain relief occurs and outlasts the treatment for hours to days and is often cumulative by repeating treatments.