People with TMJ may become frustrated with conventional treatments and may consider many alternative treatments. One that some people are advocating for is extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT), but there’s no proof that this therapy can actually help treat your TMJ.
How ESWT Works
ESWT creates shockwaves by using an impactor that strikes a pressure plate which rests on conductive gel. The conductive gel then translates the shockwaves into your body and travels into your joints, where, it’s suspected, it stimulates blood flow and causes minor inflammations that can stimulate healing.
ESWT was used first to break up stones and other calcium deposits in the body. As it was being used for this purpose, some researchers discovered that it also had the ability to treat painful soft tissue injuries.
Most often, ESWT is used in podiatry to treat minor but painful foot injuries. The treatment itself can come with significant amounts of discomfort, but, according to practitioners, the pain decreases and most people are able to walk after the procedure. Healing occurs over the following weeks and patients can return to normal activities over a few weeks after treatment.
Is It Effective for TMJ?
There is good data and nearly 20 years of research supporting the use of ESWT for its most common applications, such as foot disorders, but there’s a lot less information about using it for TMJ.
One of the few real studies on the treatment compared ESWT with placebo in the treatment of jaw pain caused by muscle tension. The study shows that 64% of patients saw improvement with ESWT, which the study says is “statistically significant” in comparison to placebo, though they’re not forthcoming about the effectiveness of the placebo.
With little good data supporting ESWT for TMJ, it’s hard to recommend such a treatment. But we do know that we’ve gotten great results with neuromuscular dentistry. If you would like to learn whether neuromuscular dentistry can treat your TMJ, please call (303) 691-0267 for an appointment with a Denver TMJ dentist at the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado.