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Many car accidents in Kentucky leave victims dealing with brain injuries, whiplash, broken bones and more. Another less prominent condition that can arise from car accidents is a disorder with the temporomandibular joints, which connect the jaw to the skull.

How TMJ disorders arise in car crashes

TMJ disorders usually occur in rear-end collisions as the same force that causes the neck to snap back and forth (leading to whiplash) can also force the jaw open and exert enormous pressure on the TMJ. Another way these injuries arise is when victims hit their jaw against the dashboard or steering wheel or have it hit by the airbag.

Symptoms may be overlooked or misdiagnosed

The symptoms of a TMJ injury are wide-ranging but normally involve some difficulty opening the mouth widely, eating and chewing. One may experience pain while talking or eating, and this pain may even spread to the face, neck and shoulders. The face on the side of the affected TMJ may swell. Victims may notice that their jaw makes a popping or grating noise or locks up.

The presence of neck and shoulder pain can fool many victims into thinking they are only suffering from whiplash. Once the whiplash symptoms subside, though, they will know differently. Medical doctors and dentists can diagnose TMJ disorders, and an ear, nose and throat specialist may be called in to confirm the diagnosis.

A wide variety of treatment options

If they are not so severe, TMJ injuries can be treated with the application of heat or ice, a massage of the jaw and face and the wearing of a mouthguard. Patients may also require orthodontic work and take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications. If all else fails, surgery may be in order.

Legal representation for injury victims

Perhaps a TMJ disorder was only one of many injuries you suffered at the hands of a negligent driver. You may want a lawyer to assess your grounds for a personal injury case and represent you if the grounds are good. With legal representation, you may find that your chances of obtaining a reasonable settlement are higher.