If you suffer from symptoms like jaw pain, popping noises, and difficulty chewing after a car accident, you may struggle with temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ). This condition can be temporary or permanent and can be connected to your accident. A car accident lawyer in Atlanta can help determine if you have a case.
What to Know About TMJ
The TMJs are joints that connect your lower jaw to the temporal bone of your skull on each side of your head. These joints allow the motion to move your jaw up and down and side to side. Without proper working TMJs, you can’t properly talk, chew, yawn, or other similar motions.
A TMJ disorder can involve pain and dysfunction of the joints, muscles, and nerves in these functions and jaw movements. Common TMJ disorder symptoms include and make sure you bring up to your doctor and Atlanta car accident attorney:
- Popping, clicking, or grinding noises that come from your jaw
- Tightness, jaw pain, or aching
- Difficult fully closing or opening your mouth
- Pain when speaking or chewing
- Jaw locking in severe cases
- Headaches or ear pain
How to Know If Your TMJ Could Be Accident-Related
If you notice the onset or worsening of TMJ symptoms immediately after your car accident, it can indicate that the trauma and force of the collision likely played a role. Head and neck injuries from whiplash or similar can lead to jaw dysfunction. It can even make the condition worse.
Some of the possible ways that TMJ can stem from car accidents are:
Direct Trauma to the Jaw
If the impact of the collision caused your jaw to slam forcefully closed and you sustained damage, surrounding ligaments, muscles, and even the jaw joints themselves can be injured immediately or over time. Fractures are also possible if your accident is severe.
If your jaw did not directly hit anything, the accident could have forcefully made you clench your jaws at the time. Even clenching your jaw can apply damaging compressive pressure.
It is common for the head and neck to create an intense back-and-forth motion, such as whiplash, during an accident. This motion can cause tears to the muscles, sprains, and strains around the jaw and neck.
Discs in the jaw joints can become displaced. Soft tissue neck injuries can turn into TMJ pain and other issues. If you experienced whiplash, make sure you get that documented because that can be a huge piece of information in your case.
Injuries Can Show Up Over Time
Sometimes TMJ develops gradually, so you may not know right away. You walk away from the accident, thinking you are fine. Unfortunately, the symptoms can happen gradually or abruptly after a while.
Poor posture and restricted mobility from collision injuries often lead victims to overuse or overload their jaw and muscles. This can lead to TMJ over time. Headaches can also make you clench your jaws more frequently and grind your teeth more often.
Document as You Notice Symptoms
You should keep in mind that TMJ symptoms do not typically start right after an accident, but they may begin days, weeks, or even months later as injuries worsen or the body tries to compensate.
Documenting exactly when the jaw and face pain or dysfunction started and linking it directly to your car accident history helps with a proper diagnosis and determining causes. Make sure to write down when it started, what exactly you feel, and what the pain is stopping you from being able to do, such as speak or eat properly.
Make Sure to Have a Paper Trail with Your Doctor
Whether you notice your symptoms quickly after your car accident or over time, it is important to see your doctor. Proper evaluation and a documented trail of your symptoms can help strengthen your case and help your car accident attorney in Atlanta fight for you.
It helps to have a doctor say that the TMJ, or other condition, happened because of the accident. Some insurance agencies like to fight this claim, so having that doctor’s report is vital.
TMJ Treatment Options After a Car Accident
Once you are properly diagnosed, there are treatment options you can consider. The options will vary, depending on how severe your condition is. Mild cases may respond well to:
- Ice or heat application
- Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication
- Soft food diets
- Jaw resting
- Stretches and exercises
However, structural joint damage and more painful dysfunction require more aggressive treatment. This could involve:
- Prescription medications
- Therapies like acupuncture, massage, or ultrasounds.
- Surgery for severe cases
- Mouthguards and custom oral splints
Treatment can get expensive, depending on what kind you have. If your TMJ happened due to a car accident, it is important to fight for compensation.
What Proof You Will Need for Your Case
Having proof is critical to show TMJ was a result of the collision. Here are some types of proof you should make sure your case is backed with:
Documentation from your dentist, orthodontist, or TMJ specialist attributing TMJ to your accident provides critical evidence. Having the doctor formally state accident causation in writing is ideal.
Medical notes tracking the progression of TMJ symptoms and noting their onset shortly after the accident help establish causality. Regularly documenting symptoms proves they are not preexisting.
Provide all accident details to your doctor so they can analyze how crash forces could have injured your jaw. Describe the exact trauma, like airbag deployment force or whipping neck motions.
X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs can reveal joint damage or disc displacement that matches trauma from the crash. Before and after imaging is most compelling.
Our Team Is Ready to Help You Prove Your Case
Whether your TMJ is something that came on abruptly or you noticed symptoms over time, an Atlanta car accident lawyer. You do not deserve to pay for the costs of treatment for an injury that was caused by someone else’s negligence. Contact us today for a free consultation.