Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Mechanics of a TMJ Injury: The In-Direct Impact

I have a variety of interests. One of them is how things "seemingly" unconnected work together. As a chiropractor and lawyer I believe in universal principles and laws. The master of all of these is the Law of cause and effect. You can't get one without the other.

INDIRECT vs. DIRECT TRAUMA

When people dispute how a jaw (the TMJ/temporo-mandibular joint) can get misaligned in an auto accident even though the face and head were never DIRECTLY traumatized I stop them. Everything within the body works together. The body is also dynamic, not static, re-building constantly. All the bio-mechanicals integrate: joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves function as a whole.

The cervical spine articulates (moves) in harmony with the jaw. Forces that impact the head and neck (like a whiplash) can often travel into the TMJ. This is called an IN-DIRECT impact (trauma). So while people can easily understand a direct injury to an area, these indirect injuries may not be fully appreciated (recognized).

An acceleration-deceleration impact from a car accident affects ALL of the structures of the head and neck. The body attempts to deal with these sudden, abrupt, and jarring forces by spreading them throughout the entire bio-mechanical system. This principle of absorption allows the body to adapt, dissipate, and compensate by spreading the forces over many tissues simultaneously.

There are many instances of indirect impact causing major injury to other parts of the body.


  • Foot and Leg injuries impacting knees and hips.
  • Hand and arm injuries impacting shoulders.
  • Neck injuries can lead to lower back problems.


Never overlook the interconnectedness of the body. The source of problems is not always apparent at the area of complaint. As I liked to joke as a Chiropractor, "if you step on a dog's tail the bark comes out the other end."

Dr. Larry Newman, D.C., Esq.
Chiropractor and Lawyer
Practicing Criminal Defense and Injury Law
607-229-5184