Many people believe they have walked away from a car accident unharmed, only to later begin having serious health problems. According to Chambers Medical Group, adrenaline masks many issues in the immediate aftermath of the accident, and some trauma takes time to display symptoms.
Here are common injuries car accident victims often experience in the days and weeks after the accident.
Even with a properly adjusted head rest, seat belt, and front and side curtain airbags, the violent force that whips the head around violently at impact can injure the muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage and vertebrae in the back and neck. What may start as stiffness and aches in the shoulders, neck and back could become debilitating pain and numbness. Soft tissue injuries, herniated discs, fractures and pinched nerves are often to blame.
The same force that causes spinal injuries can slam the brain around inside the skull. There may be no sign at all that someone has sustained head trauma, but he or she may still have bruised brain tissue that swells gradually and creates dangerous pressure inside the skull. Headaches, memory problems, difficulty concentrating, sensory changes and sleep problems are just a few signs of a traumatic brain injury.
Torn blood vessels can leak slowly around the brain. The pooled blood may press against the brain and cause damage, or the healing vessels could develop a clot that dislodges and blocks oxygen to the brain, causing a stroke.
Internal bleeding can escape notice for hours, or even days, and is often life-threatening if a medical care provider does not diagnose and treat it quickly. Signs of a hemorrhage include abdominal swelling, pain, dizziness, fainting spells and deep purple bruises.
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Many people who witness or experience a traumatic car crash develop PTSD. Flashbacks and nightmares, severe anxiety, problems with concentration, anger and agitation are signs that the victim of an accident has sustained serious emotional trauma. A person with PTSD may have trouble getting into a vehicle again without extreme anxiety or panic attacks, or suffer other mental or physical symptoms of distress.