Principal Proposed Natural Treatments
Other Proposed Natural Treatments
- Capsaicin Cream
- EMG Biofeedback
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome is a disorder involving the two joints (one on each side) that attach the lower jaw to the skull. These two joints open and close the mouth, and are located directly in front of each of the ears. In TMJ syndrome, the area around the temporomandibular joints becomes chronically tender and inflamed. Symptoms include the following:
- Pain in the temporomandibular joint
- Popping, clicking, or grating in the temporomandibular joint while eating and/or drinking
- A sensation of the jaw “catching” or “locking” briefly, while attempting to open or close the mouth, or while chewing
- Difficulty opening the mouth completely
- Pain in the jaw
- Facial pain
- Muscle pain and/or spasm in the area of the temporomandibular joint
- Ear pain
- Neck and/or shoulder pain
Proposed Natural TreatmentsThe supplement glucosamine , taken alone or in combination with chondroitin , has shown considerable promise for the treatment of osteoarthritis . Because osteoarthritis of the temporomandibular joint can play a role in some cases of TMJ syndrome, researchers have begun to investigate the potential role of these supplements in treating the condition. Promising results were seen in a double-blind study that compared glucosamine to ibuprofen in the treatment of 45 people with TMJ arthritis. 7 Over the 3-month study period, the supplement proved equal in effectiveness to the drug. However, because this study lacked a placebo group, it cannot be taken as fully reliable. Another double-blind study, this one involving glucosamine without chondroitin, did have a placebo group, but too many participants dropped out to allow meaningful conclusions to be drawn. 8 EMG biofeedback is a form of biofeedback therapy that involves teaching a person to gain conscious control of muscle tension. A meta-analysis (formal statistical review) of published studies suggests that EMG biofeedback might be helpful for TMJ pain. 9 However, the reviewers noted that the evidence is as yet incomplete, and more (and better quality) research is needed. A small randomized trial involving 39 women with TMJ found hypnosis to be more effective in reducing pain than relaxation. 15 Similarly, while preliminary controlled trials suggest that acupuncture may be helpful for TMJ syndrome, more research is needed. 10, 12, 14 A preliminary study compared Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM incorporates acupuncture among other treatments) and Naturopathic Medicine (NM) against care given by clinic staffed by TMJ specialists. Researchers found that both TCM and NM provided greater benefit among 128 women. 13 Although subjects were randomized into the different groups, there was no blinding and practitioners were permitted to treat each subject in any way they saw fit. A cream made from cayenne and other hot peppers (capsaicin cream) has shown promise for a variety of painful conditions. However, one study failed to find capsaicin cream more effective than placebo cream for TMJ syndrome. 11 Other treatments sometimes recommended for TMJ, but that lack reliable scientific support, include chiropractic , massage , and prolotherapy .
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Nguyen P, Mohamed SE, Gardiner D, et al. randomized double-blind clinical trial of the effect of chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine hydrochloride on temporomandibular joint disorders: a pilot study. Cranio . 2001;19:130–139.
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Winocur E, Gavish A, Halachmi M, et al. Topical application of capsaicin for the treatment of localized pain in the temporomandibular joint area. J Orofac Pain . 2000;14:31–36.
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Ritenbaugh C, Hammerschlag R, Calabrese C, et al. A pilot whole systems clinical trial of traditional Chinese medicine and naturopathic medicine for the treatment of temporomandibular disorders. J Altern Complement Med. 2008;14:475-487.
La Touche R, Angulo-Díaz-Parreño S, et al. Effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of temporomandibular disorders of muscular origin: a systematic review of the last decade. J Altern Complement Med. 2010;16:107.
Abrahamsen R, Baad-Hansen L, Zachariae R, Svensson P.Effect of hypnosis on pain and blink reflexes in patients with painful temporomandibular disorders. Clin J Pain. 2011;27(4):344-351.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 09/2014
- Update Date: 09/18/2014