Having neck and eye pain after a car accident is no fun. Getting into a car accident is a traumatic experience, regardless of who caused the accident. There’s the obvious damage to your car, and car accidents can affect your driving record and cause your insurance to go up. Then, of course, there is always the concern of bodily injury.
Even though modern cars have sophisticated safety systems in place to try and prevent injuries, you are still at risk for an injury. The most common injuries are neck and eye injuries. While some injuries may not be life-altering or threatening, they are still painful and create a need for medical care.
Neck pain and injuries
If you have any type of neck pain after being in a car accident, you need to have it checked out by a doctor. It could be as simple as a painful pulled or strained muscle or something more serious that could affect your spine.
Sharp, shooting pain
Most of the time, if you experience sharp, shooting pain in your neck after a car accident, you have probably strained your neck from the jerking motion that occurred upon impact. This type of neck pain is also called whiplash, or it may be a more serious injury, such as a fracture. The pain caused from a strain in your neck will be dull, and it will be difficult to turn your head from side to side or bend your neck. The pain caused by a fracture will be sharp and unbearable. Either way, medical treatment is necessary.
Treatment options for a neck strain or whiplash
- Limit activities. This includes 24 hours of rest after the car accident after your visit to the hospital or Urgent care to document your injuries.
- Apply an ice pack to the injured area, leaving it on for 10 to 30 minutes up to once an hour.
- Do not use heat; it causes swelling and makes the pain worse.
- Depending on the severity of the injury, you may not be able to lift anything heavy for six weeks to six months, or possibly longer.
Treatment for a neck fracture
Once a doctor has determined that a neck fracture is the source of the severe pain, the treatment depends on the severity of the fracture.
- For less severe fractures, a neck brace or collar will need to be worn for eight to 12 weeks, and anti-inflammatory and pain medication may be prescribed.
- For a severe fracture, your neck may need to be put in traction. The device used is called a halo; it usually involves a metal plate and screws.
- Surgery is also another option for a broken neck. You may need traction prior to the surgery in the severest of cases.
Headaches are almost always present after a neck injury. They could be caused by a mild neck strain or even stress, but you can never be sure, so it is always best to be checked by a doctor. A headache can also be a sign that you have a torn artery in your neck, but a torn artery also has other symptoms that must be present, including drowsiness and droopy eyelids.
- If your headache is cause by stress or neck strain, pain medication should relieve the headache.
- If by rare chance you have a torn artery in your neck, you will require emergency surgery.
Eye pain and injuries
Eye pain and injuries can range from mild to severe. In the case of a car accident, severe eye pain and injuries occur when a foreign object such as a piece of glass becomes lodged in your eye or if you fracture the orbital bone.
This type of eye injury generally looks worse than it is. A subconjunctival hemorrhage is blood that is leaking from broken blood vessels that are located under the white part of your eye. It will make the white part of your eye very red as the blood pools under the white part of your eye. Be sure to take photos of your injury as soon as possible.
This is very common after a car accident, because when the airbag deploys, there is a good chance it will pop you in the face. Even if your eyes are closed, this can still occur.
A subconjunctival hemorrhage is usually doesn’t cause pain. It may cause some mild discomfort, and no treatment is necessary except for the initial medical diagnosis to document your injury.
Subconjunctival hemorrhage treatment
No treatment is required except for urgent care or a hospital exam. It will heal on its own over time — possibly several weeks.
Traumatic iritis is swelling of the colored part of your eye the part that surrounds your pupil. Traumatic iritis is usually caused by being poked in the eye, or in the case of a car accident, it can be caused by the force of the impact of the airbag hitting you in the face. It may also be caused when a blunt object such as a cell phone flies up and hits you in the eye during a car accident. Even with medical treatment, there is a chance you may experience permanent decreased vision.
Traumatic iritis treatment
- Medication, such as a steroid, may be prescribed to decrease the swelling in the eye.
- Your eye will need to be dilated (this isn’t painful but may feel funny), and a type of medication called Cyclogyl will dilate your pupil and paralyze the colored part of the eye, so it can heal.
Hyphemas and orbital blowout fractures
Hyphema is caused by bleeding in the space between the iris and the cornea. This can be caused by being hit in the eye by something during a car accident. Orbital blowout fractures are breaks or cracks in the facial bones that surround your eye. Hyphemas and blowout fractures are very serious eye injuries and are considered medical emergencies. They are usually caused by being hit in the face or eye with a blunt object during a car accident.
Hyphema eye injury treatment
- Rest the eye.
- Wear an eye patch.
- Keep your eye in a stable position – your doctor will be able to provide you with specific instructions; just make sure you follow them.
Orbital blowout fracture treatment
- In mild cases, resting the eye is recommended for an orbital blow out fracture.
- In severe cases, surgery is usually the course of treatment.
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