Car crashes happen in seconds but not all injuries after a car accident are immediately apparent. Unlike broken bones or lacerations which are easily diagnosable and treatable, delayed injury symptoms come on after the accident.
Latent injury symptoms
It may take several days or even weeks for latent symptoms to appear. Victims of a car crash should pay attention to anything that feels out of the ordinary. Some symptoms are easily dismissible but could indicate a serious medical problem.
- Headaches: Not unusual for headaches to develop several days after an accident. Headaches range from mild pain to full migraines and can signal are more serious problem, such as a blot clot.
- Neck and shoulder pain: Pain in the neck and shoulders is often from whiplash. Whiplash occurs when the neck suddenly snaps forward and then back again, causing a deformed curve that lasts a fraction of a second. Whiplash is common in low speed rear-end collisions.
- Numbness: Numbness in the neck, back and shoulders is another indicator of whiplash. The pain may signal injury to the neck or spine.
- Back pain: Pain in the back is common from rear impact accidents and highlights muscle and nerve injuries. In more serious cases back pain could be a symptom of vertebrae damage.
- Abdominal pain, swelling or deep bruising: These symptoms can signal internal bleeding, a life threatening condition. Internal bleeding is also associated with dizziness and fainting.
- Changes in personality or physical function: These changes may be the sign of a traumatic brain injury. Traumatic brain injuries range from mild concussions to severe cognitive impairment. Symptoms include impaired movement, memory loss, problems with vision or hearing and depression.
- PTSD: Post traumatic stress disorder is most prevalent in children who were in car crash. However, adults may have PTSD as well. Signs of PTSD include disturbing memories, flashbacks or nightmares.
It can be hard to notice a medical condition amidst the chaos and distractions immediately after an accident. No matter how insignificant an accident seemed, it is always best to seek medical care after a car crash. Proactive treatment aids in a swift recovery.