TENS Unit For TMJ: Is It Strong Enough To Relieve Your Pain?


April 28, 2023

/ Learn / TENS Unit For TMJ: Is It Strong Enough To Relieve Your Pain?

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder is a condition affecting the muscles surrounding your jaw and temporomandibular joints, causing pain when you talk or chew. Symptoms of TMJ include jaw stiffness, headaches, earaches, clicking sounds in the jaw joint, difficulty opening and closing the mouth, and popping sensations in the surrounding muscles.

Various factors can contribute to the pain and discomfort associated with TMJ, including stress, posture, teeth grinding or clenching, arthritis, and jaw injuries. Fortunately, there are some treatment solutions available. 

For example, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is one of the most popular ways to relieve TMJ pain. However, you might wonder if TENS units are effective and whether there are better solutions available.

TMJ Pain And TENS Therapy

TENS machines are a popular treatment option for TMJ pain because of their relatively low cost and ease of use. Generally speaking, TENS therapy sessions should last anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. Additionally, you don’t have to be a licensed specialist to use TENS units. In fact, there are TENS units available for home use.

How Does A TENS Unit Work to Relieve TMJ Pain?

TENS units work by sending a mild electrical current through electrodes placed on the affected area. These electrical currents help reduce pain by stimulating nerve fibers in the affected area, which can decrease muscle spasms and reduce inflammation.

The Benefits of Using a TENS For TMJ Pain

There are several ways in which a TENS unit can help to relieve TMJ pain. The following are the benefits of a TENS unit:

Reduces Inflammation

TENS therapy works by stimulating the nerve endings in your body. As a result, the nerves send signals to the brain to release chemicals that reduce inflammation. This can help to reduce the swelling associated with TMJ.

Improves Blood Flow

TENS therapy can improve blood flow to the affected area by increasing oxygenation and circulation. It does this by stimulating the nerves to release endorphins, which can improve circulation.

Promotes Endorphin Production

TENS units can also promote the production of endorphins, which are natural painkillers that are produced by the body. Endorphins help to reduce pain and discomfort associated with TMJ.

Reduces Prescription Drug Use

Using a TENS unit to relieve pain from TMJ can help reduce your need for prescription drugs. The less dependent you are on prescription medications for pain relief, the better since many prescription drugs come with side effects and can be potentially habit-forming.

Decreases Stress

Many people with TMJ grind their teeth, which is often caused by stress. STENS therapy can relieve stress by activating the body’s natural relaxation response. This occurs when TENS therapy stimulates the body’s nerves to release endorphins and other chemicals that help to reduce stress. Not to mention that electrical stimulation has a massaging effect, which can also help reduce stress.

Is An At-Home TENS Unit Strong Enough To Relieve TMJ Pain?

At-home TENS units are particularly convenient because they allow you to treat your TMJ pain without having to visit a specialist. As a result, you can use the TENS unit the moment you begin feeling pain or discomfort instead of needing to wait for a specialist. 

However, while these units are generally effective at providing some relief from TMJ symptoms, they may not be strong enough to relieve your pain completely. Nor will it provide long-term relief. TENS units can provide relief for a few hours after use, but are not generally effective for long-term pain relief (especially if the pain is more than mild discomfort).

The following are a few reasons why TENS units simply aren’t that effective for long-term relief from moderate to severe pain caused by TMJ:

Required Current And Wavelength To Be Effective

At-home TENS units are designed to be safe for anyone to use at home. As such, the current and wavelength of these devices are not as powerful or effective as those used in a physician’s office.

This is because the low voltage current used by TENS units is not strong enough to penetrate deep into muscle tissue and reach the affected nerves. Additionally, the wavelength of the electrical current must also be precise as it needs to target the affected muscles and nerve endings. 

To receive electrical stimulation that is strong enough to penetrate deep down into the muscle tissue and provide more effective relief, you would need to visit a medical professional.

Insurance Coverage

Because TENS units are not strong enough to provide long-term relief from TMJ pain, medical professionals cannot typically bill insurance companies for using this type of intervention. Therefore, if you want to relieve TMJ pain through a TENS unit, you may need to pay for it out of pocket.

How Relatyv Approaches Pain Caused By TMJ 

Here at Relatyv, we take a Neurofunctional Pain Management approach to treat TMJ. As such, we apply various treatments to help address the root cause of TMJ, not just the symptoms. We also use non-opioid, non-chiropractic, drug-free, non-invasive treatment solutions. 

As a result, we can help TMJ patients to find long-term relief from their chronic pain without resorting to any risky treatments.

The following are the treatment modalities that we use as part of our whole-person approach to treating TMJ:


Electroanalgesia is an FDA-cleared treatment solution that is covered by insurance. Electroanalgesia is similar to TENS therapy in that they both use electrical currents to provide pain relief. As such, electroanalgesia therapy also helps block pain signals, release endorphins, and massage the affected area to provide relief. 

However, unlike TENS therapy, electroanalgesia can penetrate deeper into muscle tissue and reach the affected nerves. This is because electroanalgesia uses high-pulse currents to reach the affected nerves, allowing for more effective, long-term pain relief.

Unlike TENS therapy, which only provides temporary relief after use, electroanalgesia becomes more effective the more sessions you undergo. Therefore, we recommend two electroanalgesia sessions a week for 12 weeks for long-lasting pain relief from TMJ.

IV Therapy

In addition to electrical stimulation therapy, we also offer IV therapy. IV treatment involves the administration of vitamins and minerals directly into your bloodstream. This is beneficial for TMJ pain relief as it helps reduce inflammation and provide essential micronutrients, thereby reducing pain and improving the healing of soft tissue damage caused by TMJ. 

IV therapy also helps to restore balance to the nervous system and improve overall well-being. In addition, we tailor our IV therapy treatments to each patient based on their bloodwork, thereby ensuring that we address any nutrient deficiencies contributing to their TMJ pain.

Lifestyle Counseling

At Relatyv, we recognize that many lifestyle factors can contribute to TMJ pain. As such, we also offer lifestyle counseling in addition to providing electrical stimulation and IV therapy. 

We work with our patients to identify any potential lifestyle factors contributing to their TMJ pain, such as stress and poor posture. We then work with them to develop an individualized plan to help address these factors to address their pain and improve their quality of life.

Take A Step Towards A Pain-Free Life With Relatyv

At Relatyv, we understand the pain and discomfort caused by TMJ. That’s why we apply a whole-person approach to treating the condition, combining electrical stimulation therapy, IV therapy, and lifestyle counseling to provide long-term relief. 

Our goal is to achieve a lasting solution to your TMJ pain, so you can return to living a normal and healthy life. Let us help you find the pain relief you deserve today.

About the Author

Will is a healthcare executive, innovator, entrepreneur, inventor, and writer with a wide range of experience in the medical field. Will has multiple degrees in a wide range of subjects that give depth to his capability as an entrepreneur and capacity to operate as an innovative healthcare executive.

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