If you have ever had car accident injuries then you may have had the unfortunate experience of what can be a very overwhelming and stressful event. Many people who have been in a car accident find that looking back on the moments directly afterward can be a blur and that it wasn’t until they were finally home and resting that they were able to take a deep breath and really assess what just happened.
Guess what? There is actually a scientific explanation for that! When you go through something traumatic like a car accident, your body starts pumping adrenaline to help keep you up and moving and many people say the experience is somewhat like going on auto-pilot. Your body is protecting you from many emotions regarding the trauma, and this can also lead to not noticing some symptoms of an injury too. Accident doctors refer to these as hidden injuries, and that is why it is important to seek medical attention right away.
Perhaps the most common example of hidden injury is the result of whiplash. Even if you were in a car going at a slower pace and were rear-ended, you can still experience whiplash. Whiplash occurs whenever the body is jolted severely forward and backward, putting significant strain on the neck as it is jerked out of its normal range of motion.
In mild to moderate cases of whiplash, adrenaline may prevent you from noticing neck pain right away or even days after the accident. Swelling and inflammation in the neck and shoulders can accompany pain symptoms of whiplash, which can also initially mask the amount of pain your body is in. Muscles and tendons in your neck and shoulders can be damaged with whiplash, so you shouldn’t just expect the pain to go away on its own, but should instead consult accident doctors with experience in whiplash treatment.
Back pain is not uncommon after a car accident, though it may be a signal that something more serious is going on. If back pain increases days after the accident or if it doesn’t go away for weeks then there may be a hidden injury causing the pain. One type of injury that often hides behind back pain is a herniated disc.
Discs are spongy cushions in between each of the vertebrae in your back and generally absorb shock as your spine moves. When the spine experiences a significant trauma like a sudden and severe impact in a car accident, a disc between two vertebrae can slip or rupture, causing vertebrae to rub against one another. This can be considered a hidden injury because the disc may slip out of place and then continue to do so, causing an increase in pain as the vertebrae interact. Your best chance at a full recovery from disc herniation is to get care from experienced accident doctors.
In addition to shoulder pain and inflammation caused by whiplash, the shoulder can also experience significant trauma and injury from a car accident in other ways. The shoulder protected by the seatbelt can experience deep bruising as the seatbelt does its job to keep your body from jolting too far out of place in the event of a collision. However, depending on the way your body reacts to the impact, the shoulder joint and surrounding musculature can also experience injury. What may initially seem like bruising and discomfort from the seatbelt may actually be hiding a more significant injury.
A common example of an injury signaled by shoulder pain is a torn rotator cuff. When the muscles and ligaments that surround the shoulder are strained or even torn, you may begin to experience a reduction in the range of motion in that shoulder and arm or even a loss of mobility if the tear is severe. A sore shoulder and pain when moving it in a certain direction or lifting the arm can signify something more serious going on in the body.
In the stress of a car accident, you may not consider how the impact of your knees into the dashboard has affected their internal structure. What may seem like just bruises or cuts on your knees following an impact may actually be an indication that something more serious going on. If pain and stiffness settle in over the days following a car accident, it is important to talk to a doctor about these symptoms.
Your knees connect the largest bones in your body that help you get everywhere you need to go. When one or both knees are injured, you can experience a serious impact on your ability to complete your normal daily routine. If you begin to notice an increase in swelling or inflammation in the area, that is a good indication that something more is going on than a simple bruise.
Whether you have a couple of scrapes and bruises after a car accident or you are experiencing pain and discomfort that is affecting your daily life, it is important to visit an AICA Orthopedics accident doctor as soon as possible to assess for hidden injuries and receive the comprehensive injury care you deserve.