Incidence of temporomandibular joint symptoms following whiplash injury

J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 1992 Aug;50(8):825-8. doi: 10.1016/0278-2391(92)90273-3.


Recently there has been considerable litigation involving the development of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain and dysfunction following cervical musculoskeletal injury (whiplash). The purpose of this investigation was to interview, examine, and follow up patients with a diagnosis of whiplash injury to determine the incidence of associated temporomandibular disorders. Patients were divided into two categories: those with and those without radiologic evidence of cervical skeletal injury. In the 63 patients with radiographic evidence of cervical skeletal injury (group 1), none had clicking at the time of initial examination. In the 92 patients without positive radiographs (group 2), only one had clicking. At 1 month follow-up by telephone, 2 of 51 available patients in group 1 had developed clicking, but no new TMJ symptoms were reported by the 78 patients in group 2 contacted by phone. Seventy percent of the initial follow-up group (44 patients) with radiographic evidence of injury were contacted by telephone at 1 year and none reported new symptoms of TMJ pain or clicking. Sixty-five percent of the initial follow-up group without radiographic evidence of injury (60 patients) were interviewed and also reported no new TMJ symptoms. These data indicate that the incidence of TMJ pain and clicking following whiplash injury is extremely low, and that patients who do not have clicking on resolution of their initial pain/dysfunction subsequently do not develop this problem.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cervical Vertebrae / injuries
  • Facial Pain / etiology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Headache / etiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sound
  • Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction Syndrome / etiology*
  • Whiplash Injuries / complications*