St. Louis TMJ Injury Lawyer
Temporomandibular Joint Injury (TMJ)
A temporomandibular joint injury (TMJ) occurs at the front of the ear where the skull and the lower jaw join together. This joint provides the lower jaw with mobility and functionality. Temporomandibular joint injuries are serious in that they often involve medical attention and care from dentists and neurologists. This type of injury can be very limiting for a person since it often causes serious pain and impairment.
Common Mechanism of Injury
A direct hit to the chin while the mouth is open can cause a jaw, or temporomandibular joint, dislocation. With enough force, any portion of the lower jaw bone can be fractured, which can be extremely painful and debilitating. The most common causes of a temporomandibular joint injury include motor vehicle accidents and blunt trauma to the chin.
The most highly noted symptoms of temporomandibular joint injury are:
- jaw pain;
- muscle spasm;
- inability to either open or close mouth – jaw is "stuck", or mouth cannot open as widely as before; and
- pain with swallowing.
Treatment and Prognosis
It is typical for jaw function and appearance to return to normal after reduction of the joint if it is dislocated ("pop" the jaw back in place) and/or surgical fixation of the bone if it is fractured. However, some potential issues noticed in everyday life include intermittent jaw pain and the risk of jaw re-dislocating at some point in the future.