You’ve just been in a car accident, and aside from some bruising, you feel fine, although you are annoyed you were rear-ended. You refused medical attention at the scene of the accident, and now it is hours or days later and you are not feeling 100%. Should you be concerned?
Yes. Your body was flooded with adrenaline when you first experienced the trauma of the accident, masking any pain that would indicate a serious injury at the time. Here are seven signs and symptoms of the types of severe injuries you can sustain in an automobile accident that may not show up until days or weeks later.
Neck or Shoulder Pain or Stiffness
The pain or stiffness may take hours or even days to set in. See your doctor as soon as you can. You will likely have an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI performed to diagnose your injury accurately.
Do not ignore neck or shoulder pain or stiffness. Seek medical attention immediately if you have these symptoms because timely, accurate diagnosis and course of treatment will lessen the chance or serious or permanent injury.
Numbness or Tingling
Numbness or tingling in your arms, hands, or legs can indicate damage to the spinal column such as a herniated disc or discs , which will press on nerves, or a Your doctor will have an X-ray or MRI performed and will be able to diagnose the severity of the damage, and whether surgery is indicated or any number of other therapies might relieve the pressure on the nerve causing the numbness or tingling. Do not ignore these symptoms because this type of injury will only worsen with time and without treatment.
If you experience abdominal pain even days or weeks after an accident, seek medical attention immediately because it could be a sign of internal bleeding, which is a life-threatening injury if untreated. Any or all of the following symptoms may be a sign of internal bleeding or a brain bleed:
- Deep bruising or purple skin anywhere on the body;
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded;
A victim of internal bleeding will not be able to tell if a headache or a bruise by itself is internal bleeding, so if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, go to the emergency room.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Changes in behavior or personality following a car accident can be a sign of traumatic brain injury. These changes may include
- Impaired thinking or memory;
- Impaired movement;
- Impaired vision or hearing;
- Appearing depressed;
- Other personality changes.
If you or someone you know was in a car accident and are suffering any of these warning signs of a traumatic brain injury, seek medical attention immediately.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
You’ve heard of military personnel and first-responders suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but this is not an injury to mental health that is unique to them. Victims of car accidents can suffer PTSD, and so can witnesses to car accidents.
Common symptoms of PTSD include:
Victims may experience any or all of these symptoms and in varying degrees of severity. They may experience a symptom constantly, or when reminded of the car accident, and symptoms may arise immediately after the accident or years later. Some people living with PTSD have suicidal thoughts.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms of PTSD, talk with your doctor or mental health professional about it.