Motor vehicle accidents are just one of the ways that California residents can suffer injury to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). The TMJ refers to the joint, or hinge, that connects the jawbone to the skull on both sides. TMJ disorders can leave people with jaw and face pain, earaches and more, and the effects may subside after a short while or persist for years.
How crash victims suffer a TMJ disorder
The impact of a car accident can easily lead to a person getting a TMJ disorder. For example, a rear-end collision will send forces into the neck, causing it to snap back and forth, which can sprain or tear the muscles and ligaments in a condition known as whiplash. These same forces can push the jaw open and exert enormous pressure on the joints.
Other times, crash victims may injure a TMJ when they strike their jaw against the dashboard or steering wheel. Alternatively, a deployed airbag can hit them with sufficient force on the jaw.
Having a TMJ disorder treated
Crash victims should be aware of the symptoms of a TMJ disorder as some of them, especially neck and shoulder pain, can overlap with those of whiplash. Victims will most likely experience difficulty speaking and eating. It could be painful to open the mouth widely. The side of the face where the TMJ is affected may swell, and the jaw may lock up or make popping or grating noises.
Once a dentist or an ear, nose and throat specialist confirms that a patient has a TMJ disorder, they have several treatment options to consider. These include:
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation
- Face and jaw massages
- The use of anti-inflammatory drugs
- Orthodontic work or surgery
A lawyer to represent accident victims
Perhaps you suffered from a TMJ disorder and other serious injuries in a car crash where the other driver was at fault. Your grounds for a personal injury case might be good, but you may want a lawyer to represent you, especially during settlement negotiations. The lawyer might have a network of third parties to investigate and build up your case.