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Whiplash – More Than A Pain In The Neck

There are over three hundred thousand whiplash associated disorder cases per year arising from all types of accidents. It is now known that one in three people who suffer whiplash in the neck will also suffer from jaw pain and discomfort but this often goes unreported. For instance victims of a rear end road traffic accident are five times more likely to develop problems with jaw pain and discomfort within a year.

Medically these problems are referred to as damage to the temporal mandibular joint (TMJ). The joint allows the jaw bone to move up and down and rotate so we can eat, talk and swallow. Because the nerves surrounding the joint and face are wired directly into the brain, disorders of TMJ can be extremely debilitating.

During an impact injury the jaw bone is catapulted forwards then backwards, stretching ligaments and damaging tissue and can result in severe head and neck pain, migraines, sinus problems, vision problems and dental breakdown.

The problem with this type of injury is that it develops quite slowly and is not immediately noticeable as a normal neck whiplash injury often is. If left untreated however the injury to the jaw can lead to irreversible joint disease, pain, loss of teeth and significantly impact on the victim’s life.

There is now a simple, non-invasive way to diagnosis the problem with the jaw bone. This is by way of a scan called a joint vibration analysis which takes about three minutes to do and has proven to be very reliable.

Victims of accident involving a whiplash injury to the neck should therefore seriously consider whether they subsequently develop jaw pain and discomfort and if so ask their doctor to look into the problem and consider referring them for a scan.

Treatment for this type of jaw pain and discomfort may involve the use of a mouth guard worn over the teeth for several months and costs a few hundred pounds. At the other end of the scale, joint surgery and full mouth rehabilitation costing around £60,000.00 is an option and without question the victim’s life is disrupted for a period of time. Early diagnosis is therefore the key to saving both money and discomfort.

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