According to the Centers for Disease Control, at least 2.5 million Americans go to the emergency room each year for motor vehicle accident (MVA) injuries. However, countless others walk away from their accidents without seeking medical care because they don’t realize they’ve been injured.
When you’re in a car accident, your body may be flooded with the flight-and-flight hormone adrenaline, which makes you feel hyper-alert and strong. Injuries or shock can also trigger your body to release pain-soothing endorphins.
A day or two after your accident, though, the adrenaline and endorphins have worn off. That’s when you may start to feel pain and notice symptoms. Here at McGowan Medical Centers in Jacksonville, Florida, we often see patients with delayed symptoms resulting from the following auto injuries:
Whiplash is a quick back-and-forth motion that hyperextends your neck, throwing it out of alignment. Whiplash is the most common auto-accident injury, but symptoms may not show up for days, weeks, or longer.
Signs that you’ve suffered whiplash include persistent neck or back pain and headaches. You also might have dizziness or vision problems that accompany a concussion, which is a common co-injury. Even numbness, weakness, or immobility in your arms or legs could be a sign that you have whiplash.
An MVA can injure your cervical spine (whiplash), or other areas of your spine, too. Spinal injuries may not manifest with obvious symptoms. However, not treating a spinal injury in time could lead to serious consequences, such as paralysis.
If you aren’t evaluated for a spinal injury shortly after your accident, your spinal cord may start to swell or bleed. If you experience symptoms such as limb weakness, back pain, and balance problems, get emergency care immediately.
Just because you didn’t pass out doesn’t mean you didn’t get a concussion. A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that can occur any time your head is subjected to forces that quickly move it in one direction or another.
A concussion often accompanies whiplash, because your brain is pushed against your skull during the quick back-and-forth movement. The force can injure brain tissues, blood vessels, connective tissues, and nerves.
Some signs that you have a concussion include:
The seat belt may have saved your life, but the force of being thrown against it could have caused internal injuries. Seat belts can deliver blunt force to sensitive organs such as your kidneys, lungs, and heart. The seatbelt might also have cracked one of your ribs or injured other tissues.
Signs that you may be bleeding internally include:
The trauma of being in an accident — especially if it was severe enough to be life-threatening — can cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The US Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that car accidents are the most common traumatic event experienced by males and the second most common traumatic event experienced by females. About 9% of MVA survivors go on to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Some of the symptoms of MVA-related PTSD include:
If you don’t treat PTSD, it can persist for six months or more. Because chiropractors believe that the body and mind are interrelated, what harms the body affects the mind and vice versa. The shock and fear of the accident and subsequent PTSD may cause you to clench your muscles, which can throw your spine out of alignment and cause functional problems, too.
Whether you feel injured or not, getting a thorough examination at McGowan Medical Centers as soon as possible after your accident helps protect your long-term health. Even minor accidents can throw your spine out of alignment, which can affect the healthy function of every part of your body.
If you’ve had an auto accident, come in to see Drs. Royce or Shelita McGowan or Dr. Kwame Jenkins for a comprehensive post-MVA examination. Just phone our helpful team or use the online booking form to set it up.