Car accident symptoms are often delayed as they involve internal injuries involving swelling that doesn’t appear for days, weeks or even months later. Regardless, these injuries can be life-changing and even life-threatening.
Car accident symptoms can also be missed or undiagnosed, leaving victims unable to recover damages in a personal injury case. It is highly recommended that you receive a diagnosis as soon as symptoms appear, so you can prove a link between your accident and your injuries.
Can You Have a Delayed Reaction to a Car Accident?
Car accident symptoms may not appear immediately after a car accident. While most people assume that car accidents involve obvious injuries, they are often unseen at first.
Car accidents involve severe changes of speed, taking the human body from fast speeds to near sudden, violent stops. Even if the body doesn’t take direct impact, the movement of internal organs, the brain, ligaments and muscles can result in injury.
As these injuries are not obvious externally, you may not notice them at first. It’s critical that you seek medical care shortly after symptoms arise to minimize the long-term impact of the injury.
Why Does Delayed Pain Happen?
Delayed car accident symptoms and pain are common. Firstly, your body tries to protect you during the accident by releasing hormones such as adrenaline to trigger the “fight or flight” response.
Adrenaline combined with endorphins can make you feel calm, in control or even painless despite the beating your body has just taken.
Secondly, as the body calms back down, it can take time for injuries to appear. Damage to ligaments and muscles can take a while to appear, as inflammation and swelling don’t occur instantly.
How Long After a Car Accident Can Injuries Appear?
Car accident victims should be wary of delayed pain, as it may appear days, weeks or even months later.
For personal injury claim reasons, it’s highly advised that you keep note of any injuries and visit a doctor as soon as possible to prove a link between your injuries and the accident.
What to Expect Physically After a Car Accident
Aside from obvious cuts, bruises and other immediate injuries, you may suffer the following symptoms that suggest deeper car accident injuries:
The rapid, violent force induced on the back and neck muscles resulting in pain is known as ‘whiplash’.
This is a very common car accident injury and its symptoms may not appear immediately after the accident.
Whiplash may feel like a regular neck sprain or strain, but it is likely to last longer and can have a knock-on effect on your entire nervous system due to the connection with the spinal cord. Do not underestimate whiplash, as it can lead to headaches, exhaustion, disabilities and chronic pain.
Common whiplash symptoms include:
- Headaches, usually starting at the base of the skull.
- Neck pains
- Neck stiffness
- Limit range of motion in the neck
- Tenderness or pain in your shoulders, upper back or arms.
- Numbness or tingling in your arms.
Neck and Back Pain
Car accident symptoms in the neck and back may also be a sign of spinal injuries, herniated discs, sprains or soft tissue damage.
Spinal misalignments can cause pinched nerves, numbing and limit mobility that should be treated by a doctor or physical therapist.
The head colliding violently with the steering wheel or seat of your car can also result in a back or neck injury. Please consult with your doctor if you suffer neck or pain in the days, weeks or months after your auto accident.
Delayed Brain Injuries
Brain injuries are the most serious of delayed car accident symptoms. They’re often described as the ‘invisible injury’.
At first, you may seem completely fine – even for weeks or months. Then suddenly one day, everything changes. A range of symptoms may appear such as:
- Neck pain
- Balance problems
- Light sensitivity
- Feeling like in a fog
- Difficulty concentrating
- Trouble falling asleep
- Otherwise not feeling “normal”
While the initial impact may have been significant, it’s swelling that is often more damaging than the initial injury and is present in traumatic brain injuries.
As the brain swells, it pushes itself against the skull and reduces the flow of vitally important oxygen-rich blood.
Sadly, traumatic brain injuries are some of the most underdiagnosed car accident injuries. The Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation reports that traumatic brain injuries were shown to be missed by ER physicians 56% of the time.
If you are suffering from the symptoms above, please see your doctor as soon as possible.
Pain in the abdomen could signal internal bleeding which can be life-threatening. You may not feel it for hours or even days after the accident. Bruising, dizziness and fainting may also be a sign of internal bleeding.
If you have these car accident symptoms, please see a doctor immediately.
Changes in Behaviour
Changes in behavior may occur and be signs of bigger problems in the body.
Concussions, for example, can lead to memory issues, vision and hearing loss, depression or anxiety.
If you or a loved one have had changes in your behavior and perception of life since the accident, it’s advised that you receive a diagnosis as soon as possible.
Read Related: Catastrophic and Fatal Injuries After a Car Accident in Florida
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