Jaw Pain Linked to Whiplash Injury

A Swedish study has identified that people who have suffered whiplash injury could face an increased risk of developing delayed jaw pain and dysfunction. Research into short- and long-term temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain was carried out in Sweden where 60 patients who had been involved in rear-end collisions were assessed in hospital emergency rooms immediately after.

A year after the accident they were examined again and it was found that the numbers of new symptoms of TMJ pain and dysfunction, or both, was 5 times higher than in a control group of uninjured subjects.

The injury occurs as the head is thrown violently up and forwards through the force of the impact during a car accident causing the joint of the jaw to be stretched. The small bone that connects the joint is then forced back against and into the socket as the head whips back from its forward motion. The damage caused by the whiplash can prevent the ligaments, muscles, discs and bones from working together properly and this leads to a painful TMJ disorder which may cause the jaw to lock or click and make talking or eating extremely difficult and painful. The sufferer may experience chronic headaches, sinus pain, facial pain or stiffness, difficulty swallowing or pain in the throat, eye pain, aching teeth and scalp pain.

This painful condition can take a long time to manifest itself and is a little known side effect of whiplash injury although it is becoming more common and understood in medico-legal circles. It now remains for the medical and legal profession to prove to motor insurers that it is a legitimate condition which should be considered in personal injury claims and the Swedish study does go some way toward proving that a link between temporomandibular joint pain and whiplash injury does exist.

Unfortunately, because the condition also occurs in people with no history of involvement in an accident, insurance adjusters invariably dispute any claims that involve TMJ injury unless the impact of the crash was substantial or there has been direct injury to the jaw.

Doctors need to be aware that whiplash can cause TMJ injury and that some of the symptoms of TMJ disorder, such as headache, neck pain, shoulder pain, dizziness and tinnitus, mimic those of cervical injury. Pain in the jaw may not be the predominant symptom in TMJ disorder and it is therefore important that doctors recognise the link between the two. Correctly diagnosing TMJ injury at an early stage will reduce prolonged pain and suffering, incorrect treatment and prevent medico-legal disputes.

Macks Solicitors is a specialist personal injury practice which has acted for thousands of accident victims including those who have suffered whiplash injury. Our experienced lawyers are committed to providing clients with the very best of care and achieving the best possible outcome for them. This includes not only recovering the maximum compensation for their pain and suffering but also getting the best medical care and treatment.

You can contact a specialist personal injury solicitor at Macks Solicitors on  01642 252 828 or complete the Online Claim Form and we will contact you as soon as possible.

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