Why Pain Is Sometimes Delayed Following an Auto Accident

It’s a cliché, but time seems to slow down when you’re involved in a car accident. While the actual collision happens in just a few seconds, you may sustain a considerable amount of trauma. Even if you don’t have any obvious injuries, you should seek medical attention right away because pain is often delayed. 

The staff at Buckhead Injury Wellness Institute understands the impact an auto accident can have, even if you appear to be fine. We’re experienced in evaluating patients following auto accidents, and recognize the symptoms you may not yet feel. 

The accident is more than the collision

When you’re in a car accident, your body reacts to the sudden onset of trauma by releasing a sudden surge of adrenaline. Adrenaline is the hormone most responsible for the fight or flight response, and it can change your perceptions in ways that aren’t always obvious. 

Adrenaline causes several physical responses, including:

At the same time, your body releases endorphins that make you feel calm and in total control. Your endorphins also affect the way you respond to pain and stress. Because of this hormonal response to stress, you may not feel pain from an injury sustained in an auto accident until the endorphins and adrenaline wear off — sometimes many hours later. 

Your symptoms may not appear right away

Along with your body releasing hormones that can mask pain, your body takes some time to settle down, too, and your injuries may not appear immediately. 

When you ride in a car, your body moves at the same rate of speed as your vehicle. During an impact, your car stops, but your body continues moving until it suddenly stops because of a seatbelt, airbag, or another barrier. 

The sudden change in momentum often causes soft tissue damage. Whiplash is an example of such an injury. These types of ligament or muscle strains take time to develop because inflammation, swelling, and stiffness take time to develop. 

You can also experience trauma to your spine during an auto accident that affects your intervertebral discs. These discs act as cushions between vertebral bones and give your spine flexibility. Discs that are torn or that are bulging may become inflamed over time, or they may begin to put pressure on the surrounding nerves, which can cause extreme, but delayed, pain. 

Common delayed symptoms after a car accident may include: 

Getting an early diagnosis of a car accident injury can help speed up your recovery and reduce your risks of long-term pain and complications in the future. The sooner you see a medical professional following an auto accident, the more likely you’ll receive appropriate treatment and experience a better outcome. 

If you’ve been in a car accident, book an appointment as soon as you can at Buckhead Injury Wellness Institute. It could be the difference between a speedy recovery and months or even years of chronic pain. 

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