Another vehicle rammed into your car, but it all happened so fast that you did not know that the collision affected you physically until later when you started noticing aches and pains. Going to the doctor right after an accident is generally the best thing to do, but if you decide to wait, be aware of these issues that could come up days or even a couple of weeks after the crash.
The Mayo Clinic explains that the force of the collision may have violently jerked your head forward and back in a motion similar to a whip cracking, particularly if the other vehicle struck yours from behind. In fact, rear-end car crashes are one of the most common causes of whiplash.
Like a whip, your neck is flexible and can bend and rotate in any direction. Unlike a whip, your muscles, tendons, ligaments and vertebrae have limits, and pushing past those limits often has serious consequences. Visit your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms, which may develop more than 24 hours after the accident:
- Stiffness and pain in your neck, especially if it gets worse when you move your head
- Headaches that start at the back of your skull
- Pain and tenderness in your upper back or shoulders
- Pain, tenderness, numbness or tingling in your arms
- Fatigue, sleep problems, mood issues such as depression or irritability, or difficulty with concentration or memory
- Dizziness, blurry vision or ringing ears
Your doctor may recommend rest and over-the-counter pain medication, but the symptoms could indicate problems such as broken bones or seriously damaged tissues, which may require more intensive treatments.
Traumatic brain injuries
Maybe you hit your head during the accident, and maybe you did not, but either way, you could have a traumatic brain injury. The tissues in your brain could have sustained damage when your head whipped back and forth because the force can cause your brain to crash against your skull from the inside.
This type of brain injury is often not confined to a single area, meaning there could be damage that interrupts a variety of brain functions. For example, you could suffer from sensory changes such as an increased sensitivity to pain or other shifts in your sense of touch. Your sense of smell could change, and your sense of taste, as well. Or, you could suffer from issues that one might expect from a head trauma, such as headaches, memory loss or balance problems.
Brain injuries may start with the initial blow, but they may worsen due to swelling or bleeding inside the skull that causes a build-up of pressure. A slow bleed could cause brain damage two weeks or more after the accident, so even if you feel fine at first, be on the alert for changes.
Going to the doctor right away may be the key to preventing initial damage to your head and spine from worsening. It can also provide you with documentation that your injuries came from the collision, which you will need when you file a claim with your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company, or if you must go to court to receive the compensation you deserve.