Car Accident Lawyer
The effects of a car accident can be far-reaching and varied. From physical pain to emotional trauma responses, financial burdens to practical inconveniences, car accidents can affect virtually all aspects of an injury victim’s life. While some of these effects are generally temporary, others are long-lasting. For example, acute injuries – such as bruising and broken bones – will generally heal within a matter of weeks or months. However, car accidents can often lead to the development of chronic conditions, such as knee or back pain that never fully resolves.
Many car accident victims experience injuries to the head, face, and jaw as a result of the force of impact associated with serious crashes. Whether they slam their head on a window, whip it to the side as an airbag expands, or suffer a traumatic blow as debris from the accident flies around the vehicle, it isn’t difficult to understand why so many crash victims experience this particular class of injuries.
As time passes, many injury victims discover that their injuries seem to be manifesting in new ways. What had started as constant headaches has evolved into a significant sensitivity to light. Or neck and shoulder pain has migrated over time to become a chronic headache problem. Many injury victims even start to manifest symptoms that are commonly associated with temporomandibular (TMJ) disorders. Does this mean that car accidents can cause TMJ?
What Is TMJ?
As an experienced TMJ treatment specialist can explain in greater detail, temporomandibular disorders affect the temporomandibular joint, which attaches someone’s jawbone to their skull. Just like knees, elbows, wrists, and ankles, there are two temporomandibular joints that are placed in parallel positions on the body. TMJ disorders affect these joints negatively, often resulting in pain and/or limited range of motion in the joint(s) in question and/or in the muscles near the joint(s) that control the motion of the jaw.
What Causes TMJ?
TMJ can be caused by many influences, from genetics to arthritis to bruxism, which is chronic teeth grinding. With that said, many patients develop TMJ not due to a single influence but due to a confluence of factors. And this is how car accidents can potentially either “cause” or contribute to the causes of TMJ.
Say that you are prone to clenching your jaw when you’re stressed out. You’ve developed some awareness of this challenge and learned, over a period of many years, to be mindful of that clenching so that you can minimize this response when you’re under stress. Yet, in the wake of a severe car accident, your body and mind are both so stressed out that the clenching becomes virtually uncontrollable. You wake up in the morning in pain because you’ve been clenching your jaw all night, through no conscious fault of your own. Eventually, it becomes hard to eat and hard to talk and hard to function during the day because your jaw hurts all the time.
Whether a car accident has contributed to jaw misalignment, clenching or grinding, inflammation associated with arthritis, or a host of other factors, there are – indeed – ways in which car accidents can effectively cause or contribute to the causes of TMJ.