A sudden and violent back and forth jerking motion of your head and neck sustained during an auto accident may result in a whiplash injury, which can lead to severe neck pain and decreased range of motion. While these are the most common effects of a whiplash injury, other, less common symptoms can occur, which can be either temporary or permanent.
If you sustain permanent injuries related to these less common whiplash symptoms, your physician and auto accident attorney can help you determine if you should go forward with legal action. Here are three rare complications of whiplash and what you can do about them:
If you develop blurred or diminished vision after sustaining a whiplash injury, you may have damaged your optic nerve. Severe head and neck injuries can sometimes affect one or more of your cranial nerves, including your optic nerve, which is the nerve responsible for visual function.
Your optic nerve may become inflamed or permanently damaged in a car accident. If the nerve is merely inflamed, corticosteroid medications or anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen may help diminish the swelling. When optic nerve swelling subsides, your vision may return to normal. If, however, the nerve was severely damaged, you may need to see an eye surgeon, who will evaluate your vision and develop an effective treatment plan.
While rare, urinary and even bowel incontinence can develop after sustaining a whiplash injury. Incontinence means that you are unable to control the function of your bladder or bowels. This can lead to the involuntary release of urine or stool. A severe whiplash injury can sometimes lead to spinal cord damage, and if this happens, the structures that innervate your urinary and gastrointestinal system may not function properly.
If you are unable to control your bladder or bowel function after sustaining a head or neck injury, see your doctor. You may be referred to a urologist, a gastroenterologist, or a neurologist, who will determine if you have permanent nerve damage.
Electrical stimulators can sometimes help those affected by spinal cord damage or those who have sustained damaged to the nerves of the bladder and bowel. If you have become permanently incontinent as a result of an auto accident, you may be entitled to receiving monetary damages for your pain, suffering, and future medical care.
Just as a whiplash injury can affect the optic nerve, it can also cause damage to another cranial nerve known as the auditory vestibular nerve. If this nerve becomes inflamed or damaged as a result of an auto accident, you may develop severe vertigo, spinning sensations, and hearing loss.
Symptoms will generally subside if the nerve is only temporarily inflamed, but permanent deafness, nausea, vomiting, and intense dizziness may occur if auditory vestibular nerve damage is permanent. Antihistamines can help relieve vertigo and vomiting caused by this type of nerve damage, but they may not be appropriate for long-term use. An ear specialist or neurologist can determine if the damage is permanent so that an effective treatment program can be initiated.
If you were in a car accident and sustained a whiplash injury, contact an auto accident attorney to determine if you should proceed with litigation. If so, your physician and legal team will develop a medical and legal defense that will help you receive monetary damages for your long-term injuries and future health care as deemed appropriate.
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