Purpose: To estimate the prevalence of jaw symptoms and signs during the first year after a neck sprain in a car collision. Further, to determine their relationships to the localisation and grade of the initial neck symptoms and signs, headache, post-traumatic stress and crash characteristics.
Methods: One hundred and forty-six adult subjects and crash characteristics were prospectively investigated in an in-depth study during 1997-2001. Head, neck, and jaw symptoms and signs were recorded within 5 weeks and after 1 year. Acute post-traumatic stress was estimated with the Impact of Event Scale-Revised (IES-R).
Results: Jaw symptoms were initially reported by three men (5%) and three women (4%), and subsequently developed in eight women (10%) during the following year. Jaw signs were noted initially in 53 subjects (37%) and in 28 subjects (24%) after 1 year, without difference between sexes, and more often after low-speed impacts. Headache in females, cranial cervical symptoms, pronounced neck problems, post-traumatic stress and whiplash-associated disorders (WAD) grade II-III after rear-end impacts were related to jaw signs during the acute phase. After 1 year, jaw signs were related to residual neck problems, headache and post-traumatic stress.
Conclusions: Jaw symptoms are seldom reported during the acute phase after a whiplash trauma. Women more often than men develop jaw symptoms during the first year. Jaw symptoms and signs may develop also after low-speed impacts, especially after rear-end collisions. Jaw symptoms and signs should be observed after whiplash trauma, especially in those with headache, pronounced neck problems, cranial neck symptoms and post-traumatic stress.