What Causes Jaw and Ear Pain after a Car Accident?

man grimacing with ear pain

The forces of a car accident are enormous. When these forces act upon the human body, they can often cause damage in subtle ways. Car accident injury victims may notice delayed problems or mysterious symptoms, including jaw pain or ear pain.

According to the HyperPhysics research project from Georgia State University, even a minor car accident at 30 mph can generate intense forces. For a 160 pound person involved in a sudden stop from 30 mph, the force acting upon their body is equivalent to 2.4 tons. If they weren’t wearing a seatbelt, that force could be as high as 12 tons! Imagine an elephant sitting on you, and you get the picture.

All of this impact force can cause unexpected symptoms. Accident victims can have injuries to their head or neck that manifest in strange ways. Some of the most frequent of these unexpected side effects can include nagging jaw pain, difficulty chewing, ringing in the ears, difficulty hearing, or pain located around their inner ear.

After an accident, jaw pain and ear pain symptoms can indicate more severe problems. Accident victims should always get a complete medical examination as soon as possible to detect potential traumatic brain injuries or other major medical issues.

If you have been hurt in a collision and have these symptoms or other medical issues, know that you may not have to pay the costs for your medical treatment if another driver was at fault for your accident. You can contact an experienced car accident lawyer to represent your case and help you file a solid claim to recover your medical bills and other accident losses.

Why Your Jaw Might Hurt After a Car Accident

Your skull only has one major moving part: your jaw or “mandible.” The actual size of the jaw goes well beyond your chin, and its hinges attach it to your skull just before your outer ear. This mechanism is pretty complex, allowing you to move in a broad range of motions and exert a considerable amount of force when biting or chewing.

Because jaw muscles can do so many things, they are delicate in some ways. When the muscles are under stress, the functions we take for granted when eating, talking, or even just sleeping can be disrupted.

When the muscles or ligaments around your jaw have issues, doctors call it a “temporomandibular” or “TMJ” disorder, named after the specific joint that connects your jaw to the rest of your skull.

Symptoms of a TMJ disorder can include:

  • Severe pain around the site of your TMJ joint
  • Achiness, pain, or tenderness around your jaw
  • Difficulty or pain when chewing
  • Aching pain in or around your ear area
  • Dull or throbbing facial pain
  • The feeling that your jaw is “locked” makes it difficult to move, open, or close your mouth
  • Headaches, especially after waking up from rest

A TMJ injury can occur due to a more significant impact on your neck or skull area. If you physically struck your head to something in your vehicle, for instance, such as an airbag, there’s a good chance your jaw muscles are affected.

Multiple research studies have also shown that the same types of violent back-and-forth motions that can cause whiplash can also lead to TMJ symptoms. In other cases, you may even have a broken jaw bone or sprained joint that you weren’t even aware of!

Many jaw disorders may not resolve on their own since the patient needs to continually use their jaw to talk, eat, or lie comfortably. Never ignore TMJ-like symptoms since they can also indicate a traumatic brain injury or another severe disorder of the brain or skull.

Why You May Have Ear Pain or Ringing in Your Ears After a Car Accident

Your inner ear is another sensitive and complex part of your skull. Impact forces can include sudden changes in pressure from violent changes to your cabin shape. Blow to the ear from debris, chair parts, airbags, and other things can also generate a severe amount of pressure upon your ear canal or damage internal parts of your ear.

Common symptoms after an ear injury include:

  • Trouble hearing
  • The feeling of a “blocked ear”
  • Dizziness
  • Pain
  • Nausea
  • Ringing in ears (tinnitus)

Additionally, specific ear issues can signal significant injuries that need emergency medical attention. If car accident victims have bleeding or fluid discharge in their ear canal, they need to see a doctor immediately. They may have a skull fracture near the bottom of their skull or a spinal injury leaking fluid. The ringing of the ears is also a possible symptom of whiplash.

A Problem That Seems Minor Could Have Major Health Consequences After a Car Accident

Always investigate your medical symptoms thoroughly. Not all signs of a medical condition that needs attention are apparent.
If you have jaw pain, ear pain, trouble chewing or swallowing, headaches, ringing in the ears, or other issues similar to those listed above, see a medical professional immediately following your car accident.

Car accident victims who have a “serious injury” can file a claim against other at-fault drivers and third parties. This claim, if successful, will pay for their past and future medical expenses as well as their lost wages, out-of-pocket costs, and other accident-related losses.

You can even turn your case into a lawsuit and argue it in front of a jury if that’s what it takes to recover the money you need to pay off your medical costs.

Call (800) 431-6841 or contact Steinger, Greene & Feiner online to schedule a free, no-obligation case review with an experienced car accident lawyer. You’ll find out what legal options you have and the strategies you could use to help you pursue the maximum compensation available under U.S. law.

About the Author

Michael Steinger
Michael Steinger

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MICHAEL S. STEINGER, founding partner of Steinger, Greene & Feiner, believes in representing real people, not big businesses. Since the firm’s creation in 1997, Steinger, Greene & Feiner has never represented an insurance company or large corporation, and he vows to keep this promise. Over the course of his career, Michael has handled thousands of Florida accident cases, recovering millions of dollars for his clients and earning him membership into the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Staying up-to-date on the ever-evolving laws protecting injury victims and their families, Michael is an active member of the American Bar Association, the Palm Beach, and St. Lucie Bar Associations, and sits on the Auto Insurance Committee of the Florida Justice Association.