TMJ (TemporoMandibularJoint) Disorders * Jaw Disorders

The TMJ (TemporoMandibular Joint) or jaw joint is the joint immediately in front of the ears. This joint allows the jaw and mouth to fully open. The disorder and resultant dysfunction can result in significant pain and impairment. TMJ syndrome can be caused by trauma, disease, wear and tear due to aging, or personal habits. In a rear-end automobile collision accident or any event that can cause a whiplash-like neck or cervical spine injury, or an injury to the face – such as from a punch – the TMJ joint can be damaged by the force exerted on the jaw.

TMJ injuries are nasty, uncomfortable things that can cause great discomfort. Signs and symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorder vary in their presentation and can be very complex, but are often simple. On average the symptoms will involve more than one of the numerous TMJ components: muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, bones, connective tissue, and the teeth. The most common symptoms of TMJ include: pain in and around the TMJ joint, bone movement – popping and clicking – (“crepitus”) of the joint, swelling, pain, difficulty biting down or chewing, problem opening and closing mouth and speaking. You may find yourself favoring one painful side or the other by opening your jaw awkwardly. These changes could be sudden. Your teeth may not fit properly together, and your bite may feel odd.

You may have trouble swallowing because of the muscle spasms. The pain can even travel into the back and shoulders and/or cause headaches or migraines. The mouth may lock open or just open part way. TMJ sufferers may also develop ear problems such as ringing in the ears (“tinnitus”), problems with balance, nausea and dizziness.

(TMJ) TemporoMandibularJoint

Because many other conditions can cause TMJ-like symptoms including a toothache, sinus problems, arthritis, or gum disease, your dentist will conduct a careful patient history and clinical examination to determine the cause of your symptoms.

He or she will examine your temporomandibular joints for pain or tenderness; listen for clicking, popping or grating sounds during jaw movement; look for limited motion or locking of the jaw while opening or closing the mouth; and examine bite and facial muscle function. Sometimes panoramic X-rays will be taken. These full face X-rays allow your dentist to view the entire jaws, TMJ, and teeth to make sure other problems aren't causing the symptoms.

TMJ is usually diagnosed with x-rays and CAT scans, although MRIs are especially effective in showing the TMJ disc and the bones next to it.

Your dentist may decide to send you to an oral surgeon (also called an oral and maxillofacial surgeon) for further care and treatment. This oral healthcare professional specializes in surgical procedures in and about the entire face, mouth and jaw area.

There is no one single best treatment for TMJ. There are dozens of TMJ treatments available, and finding the best one may just be a matter of trial and error to the TMJ accident victim. Possible TMJ treatments include a repositioning appliance (mouth splint), moist heat therapy, trigger point injections, and physical therapy. The goal of any TMJ treatment is to realign the jawbone to the skull, and stabilize the temporomandibular joints, and restore them to their normal function. Conservative TMJ treatment usually runs for four to nine months.

Where conservative treatment doesn’t work, surgery is considered. After surgery, rehabilitation and therapy are necessary.

Even with the best diagnostic techniques and treatment many TMJ injury victims will have a permanent disability due to the very nature of this type of injury.

The temporomandibular joint is nerve-rich and has very complicated movements within it which
make it vulnerable to injury. What may seem like a short-term problem from a simple accident, can turn into a chronic or long-term problem.

If you suffer from TMJ, for more information check out the website for the TMJ Association:

If you have suffered a TMJ injury in Queens, you should call an experienced New York TMJ lawyer. A New York TMJ attorney can carefully review your medical and dental records and put together the strongest possible case for you to obtain fair and just compensation for your Bronx or Queens TMJ injury.

For your serious personal injury, you need legal representation from a qualified personal injury attorney. Contact us for your free consultation.

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