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Delayed Injury Symptoms After a Car Accident

November 25, 2022
Delayed Injury Symptoms After a Car Accident
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Auto accidents can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere. Although some can result in severe, even fatal injuries, fortunately, most people involved in a car accident only experience minor injuries.

It may seem like you have walked away from an auto accident unharmed. You feel fine and might not think anything is wrong with your body. But our bodies can have interesting responses to trauma that delay our awareness of serious injury. Adrenaline can also hide symptoms of injuries from an auto accident for the time being.

If you have recently been in an accident, be aware of delayed symptoms that signal an injury after an auto accident. If you suffer from delayed injuries, physical therapists can help alleviate pain and bring relief after a car crash.

Following a crash, you must be vigilant about monitoring yourself for delayed pain over the next several weeks. Learn more about delayed injuries and how to identify them.

How long after a car accident can injuries appear?

In the immediate aftermath of a motor vehicle collision, it is very common for people not to realize the extent of their injuries. People regularly describe how they initially felt okay but woke up the following day in extreme pain. Unfortunately, some injuries take time to present themselves. Whiplash is a common example of this. Initially, a person might not experience symptoms and decide not to see a doctor. But in the days after the accident, they start to experience delayed pain and stiffness that they think will go away on their own.

Traumatic brain injuries like concussions are not always immediately apparent and can occur without direct trauma to the head. Many people don’t realize they are suffering from a brain injury until they try to return to their work or school routine. They only notice they are experiencing cognitive processing delays, sensitivity to light or electronic screens, or headaches.

It is crucial to seek medical attention as soon as symptoms arise to minimize the impact of the injury and to document symptoms accurately. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so don’t assume things will improve with time. Instead, seek immediate medical attention.

Whiplash Symptoms

Whiplash is a quick back-and-forth motion that hyperextends your neck, throwing it out of alignment. Whiplash is the most common car accident injury, but symptoms may not show up for days, weeks, or longer.

Signs that you’ve suffered whiplash include persistent neck or back pain and headaches. You also might have dizziness or vision problems that accompany a concussion, a common co-injury. Even numbness, weakness, neck pain, or immobility in your arms or legs could be a sign that you have whiplash.

Concussion Symptoms

Just because you did not pass out doesn’t mean you didn’t get a concussion. A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that can occur any time your head is subjected to forces that quickly move it in one direction or another.

A concussion often accompanies whiplash, because your brain is pushed against your skull during the quick back-and-forth movement. The force can injure brain tissues, blood vessels, connective tissues, and nerves.

Some signs that you have a concussion include:

  • Confusion or dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Ringing in your ears
  • Trouble with balance
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Loss of memory
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Headache

Soft Tissue Injury Symptoms

The seat belt may have saved your life, but the force of being thrown against it could have caused internal injuries. Seat belts can deliver blunt force to sensitive organs such as your kidneys, lungs, and heart. The seatbelt might have cracked one of your ribs or injured other soft tissues.

Signs of soft tissue injuries include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Blood in urine or stool
  • Coughing up or vomiting blood
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bruising on your thorax
  • Leg weakness
  • Dizziness

Slipped or Herniated Disc Symptoms

Herniated discs are also called ruptured or slipped discs. When someone is involved in a car crash, the force of the impact can cause the spine to become maladjusted and create extreme pain as they compress the tender nerves in the spine.

The most common signs of a herniated disc are pain and numbness. Each injury is different, but these are the most common symptoms of herniated spinal discs:

  • Pain when walking short distances
  • Pain and numbness on one side of the body
  • Tingling or burning sensations in one area of the back
  • Pain that worsens after standing or sitting
  • Pain that worsens at night
  • Unexplained muscle weakness

Spinal Injury Symptoms

Like other car accident injuries, spinal injuries can result from rear-end impact with another vehicle. If your car accident is more serious, you may suffer spine damage due to a rollover accident.

Common spinal cord injuries following a car accident include herniated discs, fractures, and nerve compression that result in persistent pain. Spine injuries may also make it difficult for you to get around or feel comfortable standing up or lying down.

Depression, Anxiety, or PTSD symptoms

The trauma of being in an accident — especially if it was severe enough to be life-threatening — can cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The US Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that car accidents are the most common traumatic event experienced by males and the second most common traumatic event experienced by females. About 9% of car accident survivors develop post-traumatic stress disorder.

Some of the symptoms of car accident-related PTSD include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Intense fear of dying
  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks to the accident
  • Avoidance or detachment

If you don’t treat PTSD, it can persist for six months or more. Because chiropractors believe that the body and mind are interrelated, what harms the body affects the mind and vice versa. The shock and fear of the accident and subsequent PTSD may cause you to clench your muscles, which can throw your spine out of alignment and cause functional problems, too.

Get the Best Treatments and Care at Palm Wellness Center

For a physical rehabilitation program to treat car accident injuries, contact Palm Wellness Center. We will guide you through your rehabilitation and be there for you every step of the way. We will also discuss tips on how to prevent car accidents in the future. Schedule an appointment with us at (813) 443-5370 or visit www.palmwellness.center.

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