If you are involved in a car accident, even a relatively minor one, your body is subject to tremendous forces. Although the car is designed to absorb much of the force, and accident countermeasures like seatbelts and airbags are designed to prevent you from suffering impact trauma, your body is still subjected to what is known as whiplash, the forceful acceleration and deceleration of your body using only the tissues of your joints.
Whiplash can cause substantial injury to these joints, which were never meant to withstand that level of force. It most commonly results in injury to the neck, whose tissues are twisted and stretched by the weight of the entire head. But it can also cause injury to your temporomandibular joints, the joints that support your jaw.
Controversy about TMJ in Car Accidents
TMJ after car accidents has been wrapped up in controversy over whether it’s a common phenomenon or something lawyers trumped up to attempt to get more compensation for clients.
Worst of all, science doesn’t help us much in showing how common this type of injury may be. For example, a 2009 review that looked at data from 1966 forward said, “because of lack of homogeneity in the study populations and lack of standardization of data collection procedures and outcomes measured, this review cannot conclusively resolve the controversies that exist concerning this relationship.”
The main problem with the studies seems to be that they take very different approaches to defining TMJ, and come up with very different answers.
The Question Determines the Answer
Part of the problem with scientists trying to resolve this issue is that the question they ask determines the answer they get. For example, one 1992 study that concluded “the incidence of TMJ pain and clicking following whiplash injury is extremely low” limited its questioning of patients to just those two issues: jaw joint pain and clicking of the jaw joint. TMJ is a complex condition, and not all patients experience those symptoms.
On the other hand, a study that examined patients and asked them about dysfunction as well as pain, found that TMJ was found in about a third of all whiplash injury patients.
We Can Treat Complex TMJ
At the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado, we understand that TMJ is a complex disorder. We will perform thorough evaluations to determine the extent of your injury and recommend the right TMJ treatment protocol for you. Treating traumatic TMJ is more challenging than treating chronic TMJ, but we’ve helped patients with all types of TMJ to get relief.
For an evaluation of your TMJ, please call (303) 691-0267 at the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado in Denver today.