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When car crash victims suffer a TMJ disorder

Perhaps a negligent driver collided with you in New Jersey and left you dealing with broken bones and other injuries. Perhaps one of those injuries was a TMJ disorder, in which case you may want to know more about their nature. Accidents are, after all, only one way for TMJ disorders to arise. Sometimes, these conditions are genetic or come about as the result of arthritis.

TMJ stands for the temporomandibular joint. There’s one such joint on each side of the jaw to connect it to the skull. Those who injure the joint tend to experience jaw pain, facial pain, earaches and other symptoms.

How crash victims can get a TMJ disorder

One way that car crashes lead to a TMJ disorder is trauma to the jaw. Victims may hit their jaw against the steering wheel or dashboard, or an airbag may deploy and strike their jaw. Another way is through the forces released in a rear-end collision. The same force that causes whiplash by snapping the neck back and forth may force open the jaw and add immense pressure to the joints.

TMJ disorders may not be immediately diagnosed

Besides pain in the face and jaw, victims may experience pain in the neck and shoulder, leading them to think that they are only suffering from whiplash. Only when the whiplash symptoms subside will victims know they have a TMJ disorder. Other symptoms of a disorder include:

  • Pain when speaking, biting and chewing
  • A locked-up jaw
  • Hearing loss
  • Popping or grating sounds in the jaw

Fortunately, most medical doctors can recognize TMJ disorders and refer patients to a dentist or ear, nose and throat specialist for a proper diagnosis. Treatments range from ice and heat treatments and facial massages to orthodontic work and, as a last resort, surgery.

Having a lawyer assist with your claim

So your own insurance company cannot cover the losses you incurred in your crash. In that case, you may be able to file a personal injury claim, but you may want a lawyer to give you advice and guidance. The lawyer may help you gather evidence and negotiate for a settlement.