Jaw Pain Guide — Addressing Your TMJ Injury Questions

The term TMJ injury refers to damage done to the temporomandibular joint, which is located where the skull meets the jawbone, right in front of the ears. The TMJ enables movement and functioning of the jaw. When you chew or talk, you have your TMJ to thank. For an injury to be inflicted upon to your temporomandibular joint can cause great pain and disability.

Causes of TMJ Injury

A TMJ disorder has many causes, including simply grinding your teeth at night while sleeping. A habit of grinding and clenching during sleep not only causes TMJ disorder but can make the disorder worse. But one of the most common causes of TMJ disorders is involvement in a car accident, particularly a rear-end car accident.

Rear-end Car Accidents Cause TMJ

The Journal of the American Dental Association printed a study which focused on the effects of car accidents on the jaw bones. In particular, the study looked at rear-end car accidents, how these cause whiplash, and how cases of whiplash are often coupled with cases of TMJ disorder. Among a group of people who were monitored for a year following car accidents which caused a whiplash injuries, 35 percent had developed symptoms of TMJ injury.

Sports Injuries Also Lead to TMJ Injury

Other forms of accidents which have been known to cause TMJ injury are sports injuries / athletic injuries. Sustaining a head trauma in a sporting event can cause, most notably, concussion; but there is also the risk of sustaining a whiplash-like injury in, for example, a hockey game or wrestling match. And with whiplash injuries there is the risk for a TMJ injury.

Symptoms of TMJ Injury

A TMJ injury is often overlooked by physicians, or is simply written off as a passing pain. That is why it is good to know the common symptoms of TMJ disorder so that you may call proper attention to it during your medical evaluation. The following are the usual signs that you’re suffering from a TMJ injury:

  • Pain around the jaw or cheekbone

  • Pain around the ear

  • Headaches

  • A clicking / popping when opening or closing your mouth

  • An inability to open your mouth entirely

  • In severe cases, lock jaw

If you experience more than one of these signs of TMJ, you may want to contact your doctor. And if your TMJ came as the result of an accident caused by someone else, you may want to speak with a personal injury attorney.

Treatment for TMJ Injury

In many cases, TMJ injury can be treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or a mouth guard. More severe cases may necessitate surgical repair, such as arthroscopy. If you suffer from pain in your jaw, you should certainly consider making an appointment with your doctor. A TMJ injury, untreated, can get worse over time. It is best to nip this injury in the bud before it gets out of hand.