Delayed Symptoms in Car Accidents

Most of the American public will be involved in an automobile accident at some time in their lives. Unfortunate as accidents are, they are a fact of life in a society that uses vehicles to go everywhere. While some accidents cause acute and even blunt trauma to the driver or occupants, most injuries are, thankfully, less gruesome in comparison. Our system of medical care and insurance has been set in place to bring victims of accident injuries to the same place they were, healthwise, before the accident occurred.

The Insurance Adjuster

For those who have been involved in an injury accident, it is necessary to deal with an insurance adjuster whose job it is to make sure that what is being claimed as related to the accident is actually related to the accident. Part of their job is to speak to the parties of the accident as soon as possible so that they can make a record of what complaints and issues a claimant may have. Insurance adjusters are trained to lead a person to say things like, “How are you today…I am fine… and you…” and use those statements against the person saying that the claimant said they were ‘fine’ in a statement. Most adjusters are just normal people doing their job, however, some do use unethical tactics to deny injury claims.

Why do I hurt now?

In some cases, injuries do not manifest themselves immediately, or even for several days after the accident.Why this happens varies, it is specific to each of the individual’s circumstances and physical condition prior to the accident. Medical evidence can account for the presence of endorphins in the body at the time of the accident, and these hormones can mask the pain that one might normally feel directly after the accident. It is part of our survival genes to keep the pain out of our minds while in a stressful and potentially dangerous situation. The general health of a person at the time of the accident can also explain why there is a delay in pain manifestations. A person who is in very good physical condition might be more resilient to immediate injury, however, even fit people suffer from soft tissue and concussive injuries.

Most Common Late-appearing Injuries

Soft tissue damage is the most common of injuries that manifest delayed symptoms. Injury to the muscles and ligaments in the neck and back are part of soft tissue classified injuries. The colloquial term is “whiplash” and persons who suffer these types of injuries can find themselves in serious pain, loss of motion, and loss of time from work or worse.  Neck and back injuries also may affect the neural pathways around the spine, radiating into the extremities. Other symptoms of soft tissue damage include stiffness in arms and shoulders, headaches, dizziness, muscle spasm, slowed reflexes and/or numbness or weakness in the affected areas.

These symptoms not only are painful, they can make even the most ordinary tasks of life around the home or work difficult if not impossible to perform.  There are several types of treatment available for such injuries; physical rehabilitation/therapy as well as chiropractic care are indicated for those who suffer from soft tissue damage.

Concussions are another common injury that has a delay in symptoms in car accidents. Concussions are traumatic brain injuries in which the brain has struck the inside of the skull. In car accidents, this may happen by either the head hitting something in the car or even by the sudden deceleration, which is caused by the head stopping but the brain continuing to move until it hits the skull.  Concussions are very common as a result of car accidents and they can appear in the following symptoms; Headaches, loss of balance, convulsions, vomiting, blurred vision, ringing in the ears, confusion, amnesia, anxiety and sleep irregularities. Treatment with neurologists and other specialties might be indicated for concussive-type injuries.

Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ) is what happens when the joints in the jaw are not functioning properly. When the neck and back muscles and ligaments are stretched or even torn, they may affect the muscles in the jaw as well.  TMJ is a serious injury and if not treated may cause pain and other problems for years to come. Symptoms one might experience with TMJ include; pain or tenderness in the jaw, pain in the neck and back regions, pain while chewing or speaking, locked jaws, swelling in the face, headaches, dizziness, ringing in the ears, hearing problems and/or shoulder pain. TMJ is usually treated by a dentist who specializes in these injuries, the treatment protocol might include electrostimulation, use of splints (mouth guard styled), soft food diets, medications and even surgery for the most serious of cases.

Emotional Distress is another concern for persons who have been involved in car accidents who suffer from other physical symptoms. Again, these symptoms may present to an individual sometime after the accident. Emotional distress is a common post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and is usually manifest in depression, sleep issues, difficulty in concentration and even seizures.  As with most psychological injuries, a professional diagnosis and treatment plan is recommended. Medical providers may use the following in the treatment of PTSD; biofeedback, medications, electro stimulation, hypnotism and communicative visits.

The above are the most common delayed type symptoms people suffer from, there are other forms of pain and injury that may show up days, weeks or even months after an accident.  Many symptoms are a result of one or multiple injuries in the body.  It is important that an injured person seek competent medical care after an accident, even if you feel “fine” right after the accident.   It is also recommended that you consult with a Nevada personal injury attorney soon as well so that your rights to proper medical care and appropriate compensation for damages might be protected.

Bighorn Staff

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