Everybody knows that if you are in a rear end or head on car collision you most probably will walk away with neck pain due to a whiplash type injury. But what most people don't realize is that you may also experience pain in your jaw or TMJ (temporomandibular joint). The TMJ is the small joint in front of your ear where your jaw and skull meet. This joint allows the jaw to move smoothly up and down and side to side when talking, chewing or yawning. When this joint is injured you can experience pain in the jaw, around the ears or in the neck and upper back. You can have pain when trying to open your mouth very wide and in some cases your jaw can get stuck or locked in the open or closed position. In some cases it can cause dizzines, ringing in the ears or headaches.
In one study researchers performed MRI scans on 87 whiplash patients (174 joints) with TMJ pain. These subjects had no direct trauma to the face in the accident and had no pre-accident TMJ symptoms. The findings showed internal derangement in 87 percent of the TMJs. 72 percent demonstrated displacement with reduction (DDR), and 15 percent demonstrated disc displacement without reduction (DDNR); only 13 percent of the TMJs were found to be normal. DDR is when the jaw clicks back into place with movement and DDNR, also called locked jaw, is when the jaw deviates and will not click back into place. Both of these conditions can cause severe pain. The authors of the study concluded that "MRI clearly demonstrates the relationship between the MVA (motor vehicle accident) cervical whiplash and TMJ injuries." Treatments for TMJ pain usually consist of medications, manual therapy (chiropractic), jaw exercises or oral appliance therapy.
If you or somone you know are suffering with some of the above symptoms or have been recently diagnosed with a TMJ issue call our office today at 859-635-6666 and schedule an appointment to see if chiropractic can help. Go to http://alexandriachirocenter.com/injury889.html to read more about the treatment of TMJ disorders. To watch a short video (about 1 minute) regarding a recent study about the effectiveness of chiropractic and TMJ go to http://alexandriachirocenter.com/injury894.html .
Ref: Garcia R. Arrningto JA. The relationship between cervical whiplash and temporomandibular joint injuries: a MRI study. The Journal of Crainiomandibular Practice 1996;14(3) 233-239