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Car Accident Whiplash: 5 Delayed Symptoms to Watch Out For

People react differently to vehicular accidents depending on their physical makeup and the situations surrounding the mishap. Some may come out unscathed after a serious accident, while some will experience extreme pain from a slight fender-bender. Likewise, some will endure symptoms so minor that they go away after a couple of days. There might also be those who won’t notice their injury immediately after the accident, with serious physical issues possibly not manifesting themselves for days or even weeks.

© JONATHAN GIBBY/GETTY IMAGES

Whiplash is a common car accident injury that often gets ignored.  It is usually the result of a rear-end fender-bender, wherein the head accelerates and decelerates at a rapid pace. The sudden force can stretch and potentially tear the muscles and tendons in the neck.

The first six weeks after a whiplash car accident can require conservative care such as massage and physical therapy. Symptoms that last longer than six weeks without improvement may require the intervention of a medical professional. If you or a loved one should find yourselves involved in a vehicular accident, it pays to expect the onset of common symptoms that may appear in a few days, and what you should do about it.

Headache

The presence of a headache after a car accident can be a very problematic sign, regardless if it appears immediately or days after a car accident. Sometimes, they can signal a very serious problem, such as injury to the neck or head, blood clot to the brain, or concussion. Be sure to tell your physician about your headache episodes after your accident so he or she can request for tests that will support your diagnosis and treatment.

Neck and shoulder pain

Young woman holding hand on her neck. Neck pain concept
©georgetownclinics.com

Whiplash puts significant strain on the muscles, ligaments, and bones in the neck. The strain can lead to pain in the neck and shoulders, reduced range of motion, and slowed reflexes, among other issues. Whiplash can occur even at speeds of less than 14 miles per hour, especially if you’ve been rear-ended, so don’t discount it as a potential cause of neck or shoulder pain.

Back pain

Aside from the neck and shoulder, a car accident victim can also experience compression injury to the lower back. Many accident victims won’t notice significant discomfort at their lower back immediately after a crash, but the part of the body may become increasingly painful to move as the days go by. If pain doesn’t improve after a few weeks of conservative therapy, visit your doctor.

Swollen abdomen

An abdomen that bulges dramatically after a motor vehicle accident could be a sign of internal bleeding. Other related symptoms include fainting, dizziness, and deep purple bruising. If you notice your abdomen swelling, seek emergency medical attention immediately, as internal bleeding can be life-threatening.

Numbness

Loss of feeling in the limbs following a car accident typically results from an injury to the neck or spine. Additionally, it can also indicate a pinched nerve and herniated disc. Seek the help of a doctor in getting an accurate diagnosis to properly treat your symptoms of numbness.

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