Delayed injuries to pay attention to after a car accident

Car accidents are a leading cause of soft-tissue injuries–injuries sustained to tendons and ligaments in the body. Experiencing delayed injuries and pain after an accident is common, as some injuries don’t show up right away. That’s why it’s so important to have a medical professional evaluate you right after a wreck.

Why don’t I feel hurt after a car accident?

Delayed injuries can take hours, days, or even weeks to appear. Immediately after a collision, your body produces an adrenaline “fight or flight” hormone to help you react to an emergency. There are several self-preservation responses from adrenaline, including:

  • No pain, or reduced pain
  • Dilated blood vessels that increase oxygen in your bloodstream
  • Increased energy
  • Changes in hearing and vision that deepen focus on sights and sounds
  • Greater strength from increased blood flow to your muscles

Your body also releases calming endorphins, making you feel in control. This combination of adrenaline and hormones means you may not feel pain right after the wreck. This is true even if you’re significantly hurt.

The science behind delayed injuries

In the heat of a stressful and often sudden situation, the human body releases a burst of hormones including adrenaline and cortisol to help cope with the trauma. A spike in heart rate and difficulty breathing are also common occurrences and adrenaline in particular is very good at masking pain.

When adrenaline slides back to its normal state, pain from an impact comes alive. With that knowledge in hand, you should be aware of potential issues and take preventative steps to ease the blow of common delayed injuries following a car accident.

Should you worry about delayed injuries after a car accident?

Car accidents are never a welcome addition to your day and even minor bumps with another vehicle can leave you shaken and stressed. If you are fortunate enough to walk away without major injury, it is likely your car will still need repair and that means time and hassle to and from the shop, disruption of your day, and almost certainly a big bill to pay.

Let’s look at an example of an accident involving driver injury and how to approach subsequent consequences:

James was cruising around his hometown when the blur of a vehicle from an adjacent street caught his eye. The sickening sound of colliding metal came a split second later and James smacked hard against his window and door pillar.

Expecting at least a scrape or bump on the head, he was surprised to open the door and feel fine. He exchanged information with the other driver, confirmed his damaged car was okay to drive and headed to his local shop to arrange repairs.

He didn’t feel any pain and chose not to follow up with a doctor. Should he be concerned about potential delayed injuries?

The short answer is yes. In fact, many accident victims don’t notice an injury for several days or even a week, long after the stress of the event is gone.


5 car accident injuries that are commonly delayed

Car accidents are traumatic events, no matter how severe. Even minor accidents that seem insignificant at the time have a big impact on your life. Accidents involving injury, of course, bring physical pain, extended rehabilitation time, and emotional trauma.

Everyone reacts differently to a car accident. Some people rebound quickly from injury while others take days, weeks, or years to see a full recovery. The same applies to the pain involved with the accident; some people feel severe pain right away and others may feel fine until pain symptoms from their delayed injuries kick in weeks later.

Neck and back injuries, along with whiplash, soft tissue ailments, and more severe internal injuries can lay dormant for several days following an accident, lulling the victim into a false sense of security. If not treated immediately, these injuries can rapidly become much worse. 

One of the first steps toward recovery is awareness of types of car accident injury symptoms. Here are the 5 most common delayed injuries following a car accident:

1. Numbness

Neck and spinal column damage are often signaled by tingling in your arms and hands and these symptoms almost always remain unnoticed for at least several hours after an accident. A herniated disc, for example, produces numb and tingling limbs prior to back pain.

2. Back pain

Back pain is one of the most common delayed symptoms of injury following a car accident. Damage to the spine and back muscles includes strains, herniated discs, ligament damage, and torn muscles. Rear-end and side collisions are the most common culprit resulting in back pain

3. Headaches

Headaches are also very common after car accidents and often go unnoticed for days and by then the accident is yesterday’s news. Most people simply take a couple of aspirin and assume the pain will recede. But headaches can be a precursor of more serious injuries such as concussions.

4. Neck and shoulder pain

If you feel pain in the neck and shoulders after a car accident, there’s a good chance you sustained whiplash. This is common in rear-end collisions that overextend the neck’s joints and muscles. Addressing whiplash early is key to rapid recovery

5. Abdominal pain

Many people don’t notice abdominal pain for days after an accident but it can be very serious and even signal internal bleeding. It is critical to seek medical treatment if you feel any sort of abdominal pain.

Delayed injuries following a car accident are something you need to take very seriously. You may feel fine immediately after the crash, but as the shock wears off, your body becomes increasingly aware of the damage you sustained. If you’ve recently been involved in an accident, no matter how big or small, it’s important you see your chiropractor as soon as possible for a full assessment. Make an appointment with Veeva Clinic today and put your mind at ease.

Chiropractic Care for Delayed Injuries

If you’ve been in a car accident, your body may be sustaining an injury that you’re not aware of yet but could still be causing a great deal of internal damage. One of the best ways to be sure that you’re not harboring internal injuries, particularly to the spine, is to visit a chiropractor.

Chiropractic care can greatly help to reduce inflammation and pain after an accident, whether or not you know exactly where the pain is coming from. Additionally, it can prevent further accidental injury to your joints and muscles.