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Recognizing Temporomandibular Joint Injuries Caused by Car Accidents

Since Illinois car accident victims may suffer injuries to their temporomandibular joints without initially realizing it, it is important for people to familiarize themselves with the characteristics of TMJ injuries. Because the symptoms of TMJ may not initially be noticed, some victims might not recognize that they are injured only to have the symptoms to show up days later. TMJ can be debilitating, often resulting in chronic shoulder, neck and facial pain, headaches, hearing loss and earaches. When accident victims suffer blows to their faces, heads or necks in accidents, it is important for them to seek medical attention to get evaluated even if they show no symptoms. It may be easier for a car accident lawyer to recover damages for injured clients when the attorney is able to show a direct link between the clients’ conditions and the accidents through medical evaluations that were conducted immediately afterward.

Understanding TMJ

The temporomandibular joints are located at the junctures of the jaw with the skull on either side of the head. Because these joints are necessary to help the face and jaw function properly, injuries can affect the entire face and head. TMJ injuries can lead to difficulties with talking, eating and chewing while also leaving the victims in chronic pain.

TMJ in Car Accidents

TMJ may be caused by rear-end collisions or by blunt-force trauma to the side of the face in an accident. In a rear-end collision, the occupant’s head and neck may be thrown forward before moving backward suddenly, causing whiplash. If the victim has his or her mouth open when this happens, it may also cause damage to the temporomandibular joints. Like whiplash injuries, TMJ injuries may not show symptoms for hours or days following an accident. After a collision, victims should be examined by their doctors even if no symptoms are present. This may help them to identify any hidden injuries, including TMJ or whiplash, that may have been caused in their car accidents.

When doctors suspect injuries to the temporomandibular joints, they may refer victims to otolaryngologists for confirmatory diagnosis and treatment. Recommended treatments may vary depending on the severity of the injury and sometimes include considerable amounts of time and expense. A car accident lawyer may help injured victims with recovering damages to pay for their TMJ-related medical expenses.

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