7 common symptoms to watch out for after a car accident

Car accidents are generally major traumas, even if the damage isn't all that severe. Each person will have a different reaction after the crash, mentally, physically, and emotionally. Often there's a mental fog afterwards, which makes it hard to think about the crash. Other people experience flooding by thoughts and worries. 

Aside from emotional and mental repercussions, there are a host of common physical complaints that develop after a Bellingham car accident. Sometimes these are not immediately apparent. Massage, chiropractic care and physical therapy can be part of a comprehensive first-response care program post-crash. To be on the safe side, make an appointment with your primary care doctor after a crash if you don't have to visit the ER at PeaceHealth here in Bellingham. 

Here are some common symptoms to be on the lookout for:

1. Headaches
Headaches typically develop a few days after the impact. They can signal a potentially serious problem, i.e. a blood clot on the brain, concussion, or soft tissue injury to the neck. 

2. Neck or shoulder pain or stiffness 
Whiplash is one of the most common delayed issues that comes from a car accident.

“Most cases of whiplash injury occur as the result of rear-end vehicle collisions at speeds of less than 14 miles per hour,” according to patientinfo.com.

Whiplash injuries can be serious. Modern medical technology such as x-rays, CT scans and MRIs can help doctors diagnose them. 

3. Back pain
Back pain that appears after an accident could be caused by injury to the muscles, ligaments or nerves in the back or even by damage to the vertebrae.

“Low back pain is found in more than half of rear impact-collisions in which injury was reported, and almost three-quarters of all side-impact crashes,” reports the Back & Neck Pain Center.

4. Abdominal pain or swelling
Internal bleeding is another scary effect from a car accident. If you notice deep purple bruising, dizziness and/or fainting, seek a doctor's care immediately. Internal bleeding can go undiscovered for hours or days, and can be life-threatening. 

5. Numbness
Numbness or tingling in arms and hands can be a symptom of whiplash. This can result from damage to the neck or spinal column. 1 out of 5 people involved in rear-end collisions experience some symptoms of whiplash. 

6. Changes in personality or physical function
You might not notice these yourself, but a close friend or loved one may. These can be signals from TBI, or traumatic brain injury. Be on the lookout for impaired thinking or memory, movement, problems with vision or hearing, or personality changes or depression. For more information on TBI after a car accident, click here. 

7. PTSD
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is common after a vehicle accident. PTSD victims often have vivid and disturbing memories of the event and nightmares. Sometimes victims feel as if the accident is recurring or have flashbacks. Children are especially susceptible.

Again, better safe than sorry. If you've been in a car accident, seek immediate medical expertise, even if you don't feel bad. Usually problems found and treated early don't progress as they would untreated. It helps your car accident case if you follow this best practice as well. Be sure to visit a doctor experienced in injuries that come from traumas like a car accident. 

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