Perhaps a negligent driver collided into you here in Novato, California, and you suffered a TMJ disorder. TMJ stands for the temporomandibular joint, the hinge that attaches the jawbone to the rest of the skull. When it is injured, victims may experience jaw and face pain, earaches, and other symptoms. In some instances, these symptoms can persist for years.
How TMJ disorders arise from car crashes
TMJ disorders are usually caused by age-related degeneration of the jawbone or arthritis. Crash victims may develop it, though, when they hit their jaw against the dashboard or steering wheel. Deploying airbags may strike their jaw with enough force to cause the disorder, too. Other times, victims of rear-end collisions may have immense pressure placed from behind on their jaw, leading to a TMJ injury.
Recognizing the symptoms of TMJ disorders
The pain that TMJ disorders cause can spread beyond the jaw and face to the neck and shoulders. Since neck and shoulder pain is one of the telltale signs of whiplash, crash victims may mistake one condition for the other and not have their TMJ disorder diagnosed until the whiplash symptoms die down. People should be able to discern these two disorders, though, because TMJ’s other symptoms include:
- Swelling in the affected side of the face
- Popping or grating noises in the jaw
- A jaw that continually locks up
- Pain when speaking or opening the mouth wide
Victims may have their TMJ disorder diagnosed with very little problems, though a dentist or an ear, nose and throat specialist may need to confirm the diagnosis. The treatment options available include orthodontic work; jaw and facial massages; anti-inflammatory drugs; and as a last resort, surgery.
A lawyer to help you recover damages
You were not at fault for your accident, so you may file a personal injury claim, though the process may go more smoothly with a lawyer by your side. An attorney may help you prove the defendant’s negligence by having third parties gather evidence. A lawyer may also negotiate with the insurance companies for a reasonable settlement.