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TMJ Caused by a Car Accident

By: Heath C. Murphy +Car Accidents

Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome or TMJ is a condition which often goes undiagnosed in car accident cases. Many doctors until recently denied any relationship between injuries suffered in a car accident and TMJ. Recent studies, however, show that people injured in a car accident especially those with a whiplash injury have a significantly higher incidence of TMJ.

How Can Car Accidents Cause TMJ

People who have been involved in a rear end car accident almost always sustain whiplash as the result of that car accident. When a car or truck is rear ended, the vehicle accelerates forward with impact causing the occupants to be rapidly accelerated. The person’s head is “whipped” backward, and which can cause the muscles in their lower jaw to experience a huge amount of pressure. When this happens the jaw is pulled open and places additional pressure on Temporomandibular Joint (the joint where the jaw and head connect). The head and jaw are actually being pulled in opposite directions and TMJ injury can then be the result of the severe whipping motion. While whiplash is a common cause of TMJ injury in car accidents, it’s also possible to suffer the injury as a result of your head or chin strikes the steering wheel or other fixed object in the vehicle.

Diagnosing TMJ

In many instances TMJ following a car accident will go undiagnosed. This is because the doctors are generally focusing on the whiplash effects on the spine and neck. It is important that if you have any of the following symptoms following a car accident, even weeks or months after the accident, it is important to seek further testing:

1. A clicking when opening or closing the mouth;

2. Difficulty or pain when chewing;

3. A locking of the jaw, especially following a wide yawn;

4. Facial pain, especially in the morning;

5. Headaches;

6. Pain in neck, shoulders or back;

7. Tooth pain;

8. Light sensitivity;

9. Dizziness; and

10. Hearing problems.

Once you see a doctor regarding these symptoms, the doctor will attempt to rule out other causes of the symptoms. There is no specific test for TMJ, but your doctor may use an MRI or may refer you to an oral and maxillofacial specialist or an ear, nose and throat specialist.

Treatment of TMJ

Surgical options used to be far more prevalent than they are today in the treatment of TMJ. Surgery is now, typically, the absolute last resort in the treatment of TMJ. Some of the more common treatments for TMJ include:

1. Ice packs to the joint;

2. Ibuprofen and Alleve to reduce inflammation;

3. Eating soft foods;

4. Massage;

5. Mouth guards to prevent grinding of the teeth and to keep teeth in the proper position at night;

6. Exercise of the jaw; and

7. More potent pain medications.

Unfortunately, the treatment of TMJ which is accident related is less successful that the treatment of TMJ which is unrelated to trauma. [1] Doctors have yet to determine why TMJ that results from a car accident has a much bleaker prognosis. However, further studies are conducted on the topic.

Contact an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer at Jones Law Group

Have you or a loved one been injured in a car accident? Contact an experienced St. Petersburg car accident attorney at Jones Law Group today. When you contact our office we will immediately set an appointment where you will meet your attorney and be provided with his/her personal contact information. If you do not have transportation or you cannot drive, your attorney will travel to meet you and discuss your case with you.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident caused by the negligence of another, you should immediately call an experienced personal injury attorney in St. Petersburg at Jones Law Group at (727) 571-1333 during regular business hours or (727) 753-8657 on weekends or after regular business hours. We will evaluate your case for free and you will never pay us a dime unless we recover compensation for your injuries.

Jones Law Group
5622 Central Avenue
St. Pete, FL 33707



[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2786231/

Heath Murphy

About the Author

Heath Murphy is a partner at Jones Law Group and focuses on personal injury law. He has been working as a lawyer for 18 years and routinely writes about auto accidents, wrongful death, and personal injury laws.

Read more: Heath’s Bio