Find an acupuncturist...

Can it help with tension headaches and TMJ?

Q. Can it help with tension headaches and TMJ?

A. These are both problems of which we see a great many cases in practice. There is a certain amount of research, as you can see from our two factsheets

but it has to be said that the quality of trials is not that great and as ever the conclusion from any trial will always be that more and better research is needed.

The predominant reason for this is that there are so many precipitating causes for both problems that even researchers fight shy of testing whether the symptom can be relieved by treatment. This is rather ironic, because this is precisely the way that Chinese medicine looks at every symptom, not as a problem in itself but as a problem which has emerged against a backdrop which is unique to each individual. That means that twenty people with the same problem may end up being treated twenty different ways because the underlying patterns were different.

Obviously there are going to be some cases where you can pinpoint the cause. We often come across TMJ syndrome which has been caused by rough dentistry when the jaw has been pushed wide for some time and slightly dislocated. It's not a fantastically stable joint, and once it is slightly out of alignment it can cause facial pain and sometimes headaches too. If we suspect that this is the case we sometimes refer people to cranial osteopaths who can go straight after the problem. This doesn't mean that we aren't interested in why this happened in this particular patient, but it could take a great deal longer to get the same change by restoring better function.

As far as headaches are concerned, though, there are literally dozens of differentiations in the more syndrome orientated acupuncture styles which can define precisely what kind of headache it is and alongside that several very long established styles of treatment aimed at restoring the overall balance. That is why we would never venture a view on a specific question because so much depends on the individual presentation. That is why we invariably say that a brief visit to a local BAcC member for a chat is a great idea. Most will offer a small amount of time without charge to prospective patients to give them a better view of what might be possible, and help them to make an informed choice. It has to be said, though, that headaches remain one of the more common presentations we see in clinic, and many are referrals from people who have been successfully treated themselves.

Post a question

If you have any questions about acupuncture, browse our archive or ask an expert.

Ask an expert

BAcC Factsheets

Research based factsheets have been prepared for over 60 conditions especially for this website

Browse the facts