Injuries That Are Not Immediately Apparent May Be the Most Debilitating
When you’re hurt in a motor vehicle accident, your first priority must be your health and well-being. Some of the injuries you suffer are likely to be immediately discernible—broken bones, cuts, and lacerations are easy to identify. However, often there are injuries that are not readily evident—that can take days or weeks to manifest—but that can have more significant long-term consequences. They include the following:
- Neck or shoulder pain or stiffness — The adrenalin your body produces after a car crash can mask trauma to your head or neck. It may take a few days for inflammation and swelling to reach a point where it causes discomfort. In many instances, neck or shoulder discomfort is a consequence of whiplash, where muscles and other connective tissue sustain injury from a violent snapping back and forth in your upper body. Sprains, strains, and tears to cartilage, tendons, and muscles may take days to cause significant pain or limit movement.
- Headaches — If you have a headache that doesn’t show up until a few days after a motor vehicle accident, but it then persists, it’s likely to be a symptom of a concussion. It could also, however, indicate a blood clot, so it’s important to seek immediate medical attention.
- Numbness or loss of feeling in extremities — If you have tingling or loss of sensation in your arms or hands, it’s likely an indication that you’ve suffered some degree of whiplash. Similar symptoms in your legs or feet may indicate spinal cord or hip trauma.
- Lower back pain — Statistics indicate that the majority of people involved in car accidents will experience some lower back trauma. About three of every four side-impact accidents lead to lower back injuries, and more than half of all rear-enders do. Lower back pain can involve muscles, but it also might be a symptom of vertebra damage.
- Swelling or pain in your stomach or abdomen — This is likely an indication that you are experiencing internal bleeding. Other signs of this type of injury include lightheadedness, fainting, or deep purple bruises on your skin.
- Loss of physical function or changes in personality — This probably indicates a traumatic brain injury (TBI). If you’re experiencing memory loss, vision or hearing problems, or mood swings, seek immediate medical care.