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Volume 10 , Issue 2
Spring 1996

Pages 101-125

Temporomandibular disorders, headaches, and neck pain following motor vehicle accidents and the effect of litigation: Review of the literature


PMID: 9133856

A literature review concerning the relationships between motor vehicle accidents and temporomandibular disorders, whiplash, headache, neck pain, and litigation was undertaken. The review shows that many patients recover or resume work prior to settlement, but most unsuccessfully treated patients do not generally recover following the settlement of legal claims; the postinjury problems are not strictly psychologic. Litigating patients and non-litigating patients are often not dramatically different in most important regards (including pain and return to work), with litigating patients deserving the same treatment as other patients with chronic pain. It was found that postinjury neck symptoms and headaches can be persistent. Employment appears to be a better predictor of long-term outcome than compensation and litigation. In addition, limited consensus is available concerning prognostic factors. Patients with postinjury temporomandibular disorders tend to respond less well to treatment than do noninjury patients with temporomandibular disorders, as do litigating compared to nonlitigating temporomandibular disorders patients, but a cause and effect relationship is not known. The incidence of temporomandibular disorders following motor vehicle accidents may not be as high as has been claimed in whiplash cases. More research is required in the area of temporomandibular disorders, motor vehicle accidents, and litigation.

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