If you were in a car accident, you might not realize that you suffered any injuries at the crash scene. Adrenaline often masks initial symptoms, or evidence of a more complicated condition might take days or longer to develop. It's essential to understand critical signs to watch for and know what steps to take to protect your health.
Car Accident Injuries That Often Appear Later
Numerous injuries aren't apparent immediately following a car accident. Here are some of the top medical conditions that you or a family member could experience in the days or weeks after a collision.
Whiplash is an injury misperceived as minor by many car accident victims. It's caused when the neck is violently jerked during impact. Symptoms include pain and stiffness in the neck, loss of range of movement, headaches, and dizziness. In serious cases, whiplash can cause long-term pain and movement limitations.
Traumatic Brain Injury and Concussions
Some of the most common injuries in a car accident are traumatic brain injury and concussions caused by a jolt to the head when vehicles collide. They can even occur in rear-end collisions when vehicles are traveling at slow speeds. Some symptoms to watch for include:
- Vision, hearing, or balance problems
- Changes to sleeping—either difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
- Difficulty with concentration, memory, and focusing
- Swings in moods, such as sudden irritability, sadness, or depression
Neck, Spine, and Back Injuries
It can take time for you to experience symptoms of a neck, spine, or back injury if the muscles, ligaments, or tendons are torn or strained, or spine disks are compressed. Signs to watch for include back or shoulder pain, numbness in the hands or feet, muscle tightening or swelling, and mobility limitations in the affected area.
If you experience abdominal pain, you may be suffering from internal bleeding—which is sometimes life-threatening. You should seek immediate medical treatment. Symptoms of this dangerous condition include:
- Bruising and purplish skin
Psychological and Emotional Trauma
It's natural to feel a little shaken up after a car crash, but if you start to experience more intense symptoms, you might be in traumatic shock. Incident trauma is a valid concern, and often just as debilitating as any physical injuries. Common symptoms of psychological conditions include:
- Intrusive thoughts, nightmares, or dreams about your collision
- An aversion to talking about the crash
- Fear of driving or being a passenger in a car
- Experiencing anxiety or depression
- Feeling anti-social or apathetic
- Experiencing changes in emotions, such as irritability or helplessness, or feeling overwhelmed or upset
- Problems sleeping
When Should You See a Doctor After a Car Accident?
You know to seek medical treatment right away if you've been hurt, but what if you think you're not, or that the injuries seem to be minor? Ideally, you should be examined by a doctor within two days of your collision, even if you don't believe you're injured. By doing this, hidden issues may be diagnosed more quickly, and you can receive proper medical attention for them right away. In addition, you avoid disputes with the negligent driver’s insurance company about the cause of your injuries.
What happens if you didn't have an examination following the accident and are now experiencing symptoms of an injury? You should schedule an appointment with your doctor or an urgent care clinic right away and explain what happened.
Either way, follow your doctor’s treatment advice and attend all appointments that he schedules for you. Many accident victims make the mistake of missing appointments or not adhering to treatment guidelines. This gives insurance adjusters ammunition to argue that their injuries were caused by another incident or not as serious as victims claim. Don’t make this mistake in your case.
Have You Been Injured In a Kansas City Area Car Accident?