One in three people exposed to whiplash trauma is at risk of developing delayed TMJ symptoms that may require treatment, according to research published in the August issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association. Researchers at Ume University, Sweden, studied short- and long-term TMJ pain and dysfunction in 60 patients in hospital emergency departments directly after they were involved in a rear-end car collision and evaluated them again 1 year later.
According to the study, the incidence of new symptoms of TMJ pain, dysfunction, or both between the initial examination and follow-up was five times higher in subjects than in uninjured control subjects. In the year between the two examinations, 7% of control subjects developed symptoms in the TMJ versus 34% of study subjects.
When the patients reported having symptoms in the TMJ either before or after their accidents or both, the authors evaluated symptoms, including clicking, locking, and TMJ pain. They also asked patients to rate their pain intensity and report the degree to which symptoms interfered with their daily lives, including sleep disturbances, use of pain relievers, and the need to take sick leave.