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FAQ: How Can an Injury Cause TMJ Pain?

The temporomandibular joint is the place where your lower jawbone connects to your skull. The TMJ complex includes the bones of the jaw and skull, the cartilage and other soft tissues that cushion the joint, and the muscles and tendons that move the jaw and hold it in place.

Any one of the structures within the TMJ complex can become inflamed or strained, resulting in pain, difficulty chewing, strange sounds like clicking or popping when you move your jaw, as well as other symptoms. These problems are collectively referred to as temporomandibular disorder or TMD.

Traumatic Causes of TMD

TMD is a mysterious condition that is not yet entirely understood. Sometimes symptoms just show up. Other times, symptoms may be caused by arthritis or by habitual actions, such as clenching or grinding your teeth, that put pressure on the TMJ complex. In other cases, the disorder can be the result of a physical injury or trauma.

A TMJ injury may fall into one of the following four broad categories:

  • Stretching of the TMJ Joint
  • A fall
  • A blow to the head or jaw
  • Whiplash

How TMJ Injuries Occur

Symptoms of TMD may manifest after a blow to the side of the head, such as can occur from a punch or slap, or a blow to the jaw, such as might result if you fell down and struck your chin on the ground. Sudden impacts such as this can cause several types of injuries that can lead to TMJ symptoms:

  • Forcing your upper and lower teeth together, putting pressure on the TMJ
  • Dislocating your jaw, which can force the joint out of alignment and stretch the soft tissues of the TMJ complex
  • Fracturing or otherwise injuring the top portion of the mandible bone, known as the condyle

Whiplash is caused by forceful forward-and-back movement of the head and neck. It is commonly caused by rear-end auto collisions. Whiplash can cause the bone between the skull and neck to shift out of alignment, which in turn affects the jaw. Symptoms of whiplash may not show up for hours or even days after the accident.

When to See a TMJ Specialist

It’s never a bad idea to seek an evaluation after an accident, even in the absence of symptoms, just to ensure there’s no damage. If you do have symptoms such as pain or difficulty moving your jaw, you should see a TMJ specialist as soon as possible.

If your jaw is in pain following an injury accident, please give Pasadena Pain Management a call immediately. FREE CONSULTATIONS are available. Call us at 626-773-8333, or schedule an appointment on our website.

About Pasadena Pain Management

Pasadena Pain Management offers pain management treatment for TMJ/TMD, migraine, headaches and neck pain in Pasadena, CA. Our office is conveniently located with extended hours to meet your needs. At Pasadena Pain Management, we offer the exclusive TruDenta treatment therapy — a highly specialized form of care that involves cutting-edge dental technology, without needles or injections. Patient satisfaction is our top priority and we strive to provide the exceptional, affordable pain management care and personal touch that lead to lasting relationships. A smiling patient is our greatest reward and we look forward to keeping our patients happy and pain free.