A Patient’s Treatment and Outcome: TMJD

Posted by on May 24, 2018 in Blog | No Comments

During a patient’s first visit the acupuncturists at All and One complete a thorough exam and review of systems, give an appropriate treatment and provide patients with a detailed plan. Almost everyone’s needs are different! During a course of treatment, one patient may experience a different style of care and supplemental modalities than another.

Below is a true short story about a patient I worked with recently; his progress is typical but the treatment is unique. With this, I hope you enjoy getting into my head about a patient other than yourself and learn more about what to expect at All and One.


This 35-year-old patient is a single dad who works hard in his field and strives to take good care of himself. He schedules with me to address neck, jaw, and facial tension which has been building over the course of three to four years. He’s a healthy individual with a high-stress burden and says himself, “it’s getting out of control.” His jaw is popping constantly.

The greatest complicating factor is that he’s recently had surgery for an inguinal hernia and has developed chronic pain over the incision site. Exercise is his primary outlet for stress and he’s unable to exercise with this pain. The surgeon and other providers have had little to offer to help.

During our first visit, I find the major muscles of his neck, shoulders, and back is tight and adhesed to neighboring tissues. His inguinal hernia scar is well healed but slightly tender. I focus this first treatment on his whole system’s needs, as well as the adhesions in the areas above. Following acupuncture, I perform gua sha (gentle scraping therapy) and cupping to further relax and dislodge the adhesed tissues. Already he feels fully relaxed, a tremendous relief. I recommend he returns weekly for four weeks.

He arrives for his second visit quite pleased, reporting about a 50% decrease in his jaw popping and a greater sense of calm through the week. The next few treatments are similar, with acupuncture, gua sha and cupping to appropriate adhesions and always addressing the system. I offer stretches and exercises beginning to correct the muscle imbalance perpetuated by his “stress desk” posture.

By the fourth visit, he’s able to return to his supportive exercise habits; he notices his facial tension dissolving and his mood improving. We continue to discuss his stressors and the way he manages them. Without my encouraging, he signs up for a facial gua sha class taught by my colleague Beth Griffing, to learn new ways of self care and maintain the improvements. I recommend that he continue with treatment every two weeks for another month.

At each visit, his neck, shoulders and back feel more pliable. His jaw is popping only rarely and his stress is manageable. He’s developed a greater awareness of the tension in his facial muscles and the associated emotions, which continue somewhat because well, a good life is full of tension and emotions. Beyond this short course, I recommend monthly or quarterly treatments, more often as other issues arise or during periods of high stress.

The inguinal hernia incision site pain was a compounding factor on a small anthill of unmanageable stress. With the nervous system so busy, adhesed tissues may be beyond the point of responding to stretching alone. Acupuncture downregulates the stress response, calms the nervous system and unwinds muscle tension to allow for optimal functioning.


Our acupuncturists offer free consultations if you or a friend have questions about how we can help. Call All and One Acupuncture Monday through Friday at (503) 281-6909.

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