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What you should know about whiplash and TMJ disorders

People who are diagnosed with whiplash after a car crash often underestimate just how potentially serious the long-term effects of this injury can be. That’s normal. You want to get on with your life as quickly as possible. 

Whiplash, which typically occurs when a person’s head moves suddenly and forcefully back and forth, can cause an injury to the jaw that affects the temporomandibular joints (TMJ). These are the joints located next to the ears. They attach the jaw to the skull.

This type of injury can cause a TMJ disorder that results in serious jaw pain when a person eats, brushes their teeth, yawns or even speaks. Most people use their TMJ around 2,000 times a day. That’s a lot of pain. 

Early signs of a TMJ disorder need to be checked out

Obviously, pain like that described above can be a sign of an injury to the TMJ. If you hear or feel your jaw clicking or locking, that’s another symptom. Earaches can develop also.

If you’re suffering from other injuries like broken bones or lacerations, you may not pay much attention to the pain in your jaw. That’s why you should make a note of all your symptoms, no matter how seemingly minor they are, as you get medical evaluation and care after a crash. Doctors can detect a TMJ injury with x-rays or other types of imaging. By getting the proper treatment as early as possible, you can help prevent long-term issues, like degenerative arthritis, from developing.

A person who suffers an injury that affects the TMJ may not notice it for days or even longer. Aside from pain and earaches, a “clicking” or locking of the jaw is a possible symptom. It’s always wise to get it checked out if you didn’t mention it to a doctor when you were first evaluated after the crash. X-rays and other imaging can be used to confirm it.

This is just one example of why you shouldn’t be hurried into accepting a settlement from an at-fault driver’s insurer, even if it seems fair. Crash injuries can take some time to become apparent. Further, it’s difficult to know immediately what the long-term effects will be. With experienced legal guidance, you can help ensure that you get the compensation you need.

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