While dealing with the legal aspects of a car accident, it’s also important to take care of any injuries you may have received. Auto accident injuries can range from minor fender benders with minimal physical injury to life-threatening events (and everything in between). In many cases pain is delayed after an accident. This leads some people to believe that their pain must not have been caused by the accident, or that it’s all in their head and they shouldn’t seek treatment. This can be dangerous since early detection and treatment of accident-related injuries is crucial for minimizing chronic pain and long-term effects of accidents. Learn more about common auto injury symptoms.
So why doesn’t pain always show up right away after an accident? Why would it take hours or even several days for pain to occur? Epinephrine. Adrenaline (also known as the hormone epinephrine) is a major cause of delay of onset of symptoms after an accident. Many times your body is “ramped-up” directly after an accident because of the adrenaline circulating through the body. This blocks certain pain signals in the body. Epinephrine is the same hormone that can give someone almost super-human strength in a life-threatening situation by dampening pain signals. After these effects wear off it’s often several hours before pain is felt.
Being distracted can limit pain as well. Have you ever noticed that pain often seems amplified when you lay down at night to go to bed? This happens because as the mind is pre-occupied with other events throughout the day, pain gets put on the back-burner. Then, as the mind starts to settle down the pain signals get amplified. There is so much activity immediately after an accident that someone who has sustained an injury can feel little to no pain until they have a chance to rest and relax. Sometimes the pain is delayed for days due to all of the distractions after an accident.
Lastly, inflammation can build during the hours and days after an auto accident. Pain is one of the key markers for inflammation. A warm, red, swollen, painful area is often seen with inflammation. As inflammation builds in the joints, muscles, and surrounding tissues, pain will increase. This is another reason why pain isn’t always immediate after an accident. Many times the first signs of inflammation can be detected by a medical doctor or chiropractor upon the initial exam. Early treatment is important to help prevent chronic pain.
If you have been in an accident please don’t wait to get evaluated. It’s important to have an initial evaluation as soon as possible after an accident. However, if you have pain that didn’t begin for hours, days, or even weeks after an accident, don’t hesitate to schedule an evaluation when your pain starts to see if medical or chiropractic care could help you.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Kauffman Chiropractic for their insight into car accident injury treatment.