Immediately after a car accident, your adrenaline can act as a pain reliever that masks injury symptoms. You may not notice you are injured until hours later, after the adrenaline has worn off. This is why it is important not to say you are not injured until you have seen a doctor. Look out for symptoms of these seven hidden injuries after a car accident.
There are hard-tissue and soft-tissue injuries. Hard-tissue injuries are often immediately noticeable, such as broken bones. A victim may not feel a soft-tissue injury, on the other hand, until later. Soft-tissue injuries include muscle strains, sprains, tendon injuries and dislocations. Common symptoms connected to soft-tissue injuries after a car accident include:
- Trouble moving
Soft-tissue injuries often impact the arms, shoulders, elbows and wrists, as well as the knees and legs. The muscles and tendons in the neck and back can also suffer soft-tissue damage in a car accident. These injuries can cause acute and/or chronic pain; however, pain and other symptoms may not be immediate.
Whiplash is the most common type of neck injury associated with motor vehicle accidents. This is a soft-tissue injury that harms the muscles and tendons in the neck due to the rapid back-and-forth motion of the head and neck in a crash, such as a rear-end collision. The symptoms of whiplash and other neck injuries are often hidden, with pain that is not immediately noticeable. Symptoms can include pain and stiffness in the neck, headaches, tingling, and numbness.
If the head or skull strikes an object during a car accident, the impact can be severe enough to make the brain bounce around inside the skull and sustain damage. This is called a traumatic brain injury. Although some brain injuries, such as concussions, show symptoms right away, others affect the victim more slowly. If the brain has slow bleeding or swelling, for example, the victim may not notice any symptoms until the injury has worsened enough to cause more significant damage.
A herniated disk describes a ruptured or slipped spinal cord disk. If a car accident causes trauma to the spinal cord, it can rupture the rubbery exterior shell of a spinal cord disk, causing the soft interior to push outward. If it pushes on the nerves surrounding the spinal cord, this injury can cause delayed symptoms such as sharp pains.
Spinal Cord Injuries
A herniated disk is just one of many different types of spinal cord injuries that can arise in an auto accident. Other common back injuries include spinal cord fractures, spinal concussion and nerve damage. Although these injuries can be severe or catastrophic – including paralysis – they may not show immediate signs or symptoms. It may take a few hours or days to notice pain, tingling, or loss of function or sensation related to a spinal cord injury.
Internal Organ Injuries
The internal organs can suffer injuries if an external force pushes against them, such as the pressure of a seat belt. Internal organs that may have hidden injuries after a car accident include the liver, kidney, intestines, lungs and heart. It may take some time for these injuries to present themselves, such as the eventual loss of a bodily function due to organ damage or slow internal bleeding.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Hidden injuries do not only describe physical injuries. They can also refer to mental, emotional or psychological damage connected to an auto accident. Witnessing or experiencing a car crash can cause psychological harm and mental health disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
PTSD can result in symptoms such as depression, anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares and phobias. Most people who experience emotional distress notice it in the days or weeks following a traumatic event, not immediately after.
If you get into a car accident in Dallas, wait until you have seen a doctor before discussing whether you are injured with an insurance provider. You may have hidden or delayed injuries.