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12 Post Car Accident Symptoms and Signs of Trauma

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When you’ve been in a car accident, immediately afterwards, you’re disoriented. If you’re not visibly injured, you may be thinking you’re alright. There’s shock, confusion, and adrenaline running. Sometimes post car accident symptoms telling you there’s something wrong take days or weeks to spring up.

Even if you feel ok a moment after an accident, there are some post-accident symptoms to keep an eye out for. For the more serious injuries, you may need to consult with a lawyer about seeking post accident compensation. Here are the twelve post car accident symptoms and signs of trauma:

1. Headaches

The single most common car accident symptom are headaches. These post car accident symptoms typically set in the next morning or possibly days after. Headaches post-car accident could be as trivial as a tension headache or as serious as indicative of a brain injury.

2. Abdominal pain

When there’s pain in the abdomen after a car accident, it should be checked out by a medical professional. It could simply be internal bruising that will go away in time or could be internal bleeding, or a more serious injury. Seatbelts that pull tight in an accident can cause tenderness through the area. The pain of these post car accident symptoms can sometimes be delayed up to a few days. If you experience any nausea, this could be a sign of stress or injury as well.

3. Neck and shoulder pain

As the lower half of our bodies are hopefully positioned firmly in our seats, our upper half is available in a car accident to be jerked or jarred. Neck and shoulder pain can appear post-accident stemming from tension and stress, temporary or permanent nerve damage, an injury to one’s muscle or tendons, or tissue damage. Pain in this area is not something which should be ignored.

4. Whiplash

A car accident often produces a jarring force that will stretch the muscles and tendons surrounding the neck. These ligaments, joints, nerves, and discs can be easily injured, resulting in intense pain. If you suspect you may have whiplash, go to an emergency room immediately. Symptoms specific to whiplash include dizziness, fatigue, shoulder and neck pain, stiff and sore muscles, blurred vision, or restricted range of motion anywhere from the waist up.

5. Bruising

Bruises aren’t always instant. They can take a few days before they pop out. Bruising is generally not a major concern however if you notice any discoloration or tenderness growing, it could be an indication that there is an injury to an internal organ, tissue damage, or bone.

6. Swelling

Swelling is a very common vehicle accident symptom, sometime taking a few hours or days to appear. Swelling is oftentimes a sign that a sprain, pulled muscle, or damaged tissue is trying to heal itself. This swelling can sometimes lead to stiffness and a reduced range of motion. The treatment for swelling is to apply ice, rest and elevate the body part, and/or to immobilize and wrap the area.

7. Concussion

A concussion can be very serious if left untreated or unrecognized. A concussion is essentially a bruise on the brain. Some go away in time without concern while others can lead to grave conditions such as fibromyalgia. You may have a concussion if you are experiencing blurred or double vision, nausea, sensitivity to light, sensitivity to noise, or unexplained changes in mood, sleep, or appetite.

8. Mood changes

After a car accident, one may appear more irritable, have emotional mood winds, partake in irrational decision-making, or become withdrawn. This can all be a sign of mental health issues unresolved from the accident. Seeking support from a counselor or mental health professional is recommended. They may be able to assist in the recovery and in processing the physical, emotional, and/or financial aftermath of what can be a cataclysmic event.

9. Lack of appetite

Losing one’s appetite altogether is not uncommon post-car accident. This is usually due to stress, upset stomach, or the possibility of a concussion. If your appetite does not return after a day, consult a healthcare professional for tips on how to get eating again.

Alternatively, you may go the other way with your appetite and begin stress-eating or emotional-eating. This may be a coping mechanism as you’re trying to process what happened. Speak with and seek support if necessary or if you believe it to be a problem.

10. Difficulty sleeping

You may briefly experience insomnia or uncharacteristically be unable to fall asleep. Some car accident victims may be completely unaware of the amount of physical pain or mental stress they’re under. Pain, nightmares, and stress relating to finances or the accident itself can affect one’s ability to fall asleep and then remain asleep.

11. Post-traumatic stress disorder

PTSD is not just something soldiers can arrive at. Post-traumatic stress disorder can come from a car accident, particularly if it’s associated with a persistent headache. PTSD symptoms post-car accident include flashbacks or nightmares relating to the event, mood changes, anxiety surrounding the accident, and an inability to concentrate.

12. Tingling or numbness

These post car accident symptoms are usually signs of nerve damage or tissue damage when there is tingling or numbness in or around the neck, shoulders, back, or the extremities. If it’s a pinched nerve, these are generally very painful. Medical intervention should be sought immediately to ensure this is resolved and long-term risks are minimized. In many cases, if left untreated, post car accident symptoms like this can lead to a lifetime of chronic pain and struggle.

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