If you were involved in a car accident, you may find yourself experiencing pain in your jaw. Many people do not immediately connect their jaw pain to the car crash, but jaw pain following a car accident is common. This is because car crashes can cause a condition known as Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, or TMJ.
If you are having jaw pain after a collision, you need to see a doctor to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment. You may also need to consult with experts who can determine if the jaw pain is linked to the accident. If your TMJ was related to the collision, you are entitled to be compensated for the cost of related treatments and for the discomfort that it causes you.
Jaw Pain is a Common Injury in a Car Accident
The temporomandibular joint connects the jaw to the temporal bones located in the skull at the front of each ear. The joint serves as a hinge making it possible to open the mouth to talk, eat, and yawn. If the joint becomes swollen, inflamed, or otherwise damaged, significant pain can occur and complications including teeth clenching may develop. Unfortunately, it is very common for this joint to be damaged in motor vehicle accidents – even if the jaw is not directly struck.
The Colgate Oral Care Center summarized troubling findings about TMJ that were originally published in The Journal of the American Dental Association. According to the study in the Journal: “one in three people exposed to whiplash trauma is at risk of developing delayed TMJ symptoms that may require treatment.”
Whiplash trauma is especially common in rear-end car accidents but can happen in any type of collision. When the head is thrust forward and then backwards from the force of a car accident, the soft tissues may stretch and become damaged, causing whiplash. As the head is thrust violently backwards, the lower jaw remains where it was, forcing the mouth open, and damaging the temporomandibular joint. Typically, anterior injury occurs, and there is a risk of displacement of the articular disc that is in the temporomandibular joint.
The increased risk of TMJ symptoms is significant after trauma from a car accident. Those who sustained injury were five times as likely to experience TMJ pain or disfunction compared with uninjured individuals who were included as control subjects.
Patients with TMJ can experience many health difficulties. The Mayo Clinic lists symptoms of TMJ disorders to include:
- jaw pain or tenderness;
- an aching pain in the area around the ear;
- difficulty chewing;
- pain when chewing;
- a facial ache; and
- difficulty opening or closing the mouth when the temporomandibular joint locks up.
Treatment options for TMJ include medications like muscle relaxers, sedatives, and pain relievers. Patients may also need physical therapy and ultrasound therapy. Exercise of the jaw and the use of heat and ice may be recommended, along with corticosteroid or Botox injections in the joint to deal with pain. Some patients will need to wear oral splints or bite guards.
When these treatments do not work, patients may undergo surgery to repair or to replace the joint or have a procedure called arthrocentesis in which needles are used to drain fluid in the joint and fight inflammation. Treatments can be expensive and should be paid for by those who caused the car accident. Car accident victims should consult with a lawyer to pursue a claim to be compensated for their damages.
How Can a Long Beach Car Accident Lawyer Help?
Your Injuries are Personal to Me
If you are involved in a car accident and start experiencing jaw pain, I will fight hard to get you the compensation you deserve. Your injuries are personal to me, so I will handle every aspect of your case until your claim is resolved.
Call the Law Office of Michael D. Waks at 888-394-1174 or use the convenient online contact form to schedule a free consultation to speak with a Long Beach car accident lawyer to learn how I can help you if you’ve suffered a car accident injury. You will be under no obligation and you will never pay any money unless you recover compensation for your losses.
You can also download my convenient glove box checklist to keep in your car so you will know what to do if a crash occurs.
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