Many things can cause TMJ injuries, but this type of injury occurs frequently after vehicle crashes in New York and around the country, even with very low speeds. If left untreated, TMJ injuries can have lasting effects on the neck, jaws, face and shoulders. This makes it important to understand the symptoms.
Basics of TMJ
TMJ refers to the temporomandibular joints that join the skull and jaw bone. These joints located on each side of the head assist with yawning, chewing and talking. It affects the whole face since the joints are connected. Injury may cause chronic facial or jaw pain, headaches and earaches temporarily or permanently.
How auto accidents cause TMJ
Whiplash is a common injury after a crash that may cause TMJ pain. Some studies have shown that TMJ injuries are five times more likely in a person with whiplash.
The impact of the crash, especially rear-end collisions, causes the head to forcefully jerk back and forth. The amount of force could make the jaw suddenly open to adding extra pressure to the joints. TMJ pain may also be caused by the jaw striking the dashboard, the steering wheel or an airbag.
A person should see a doctor if they notice any of the following symptoms of TMJ injury after a crash:
• Trouble biting or chewing
• Popping sounds in jaw
• Swelling on sides of face
• Shoulder pain when chewing or talking
• Dizziness, earache, loss of hearing
Other symptoms could include ringing in the ear, sensitivity to light and stuffiness and pain in the sinus region. Some symptoms of TMJ do not always show immediately, and the pain may be related to whiplash. In this case, TMJ symptoms may not get noticed until after the pain of whiplash eases.
A person may seek compensation for TMJ injuries that appear after a motor vehicle accident. However, the injured victim needs proof to file a claim since insurance companies may try to ignore TMJ claims unless an injury results from direct impact. A personal injury attorney may help a victim gather evidence and negotiate with the insurance company.