Why Symptoms From Common Auto Accident Injuries are Often Delayed

Car accidents — even low-speed city fender benders — are a leading cause of musculoskeletal injury leading to debilitating pain and long recovery times, yet chances are good that you walked away from your collision just fine. In fact, there’s a chance you even felt pretty good, despite the ordeal.

What you’ve experienced is the effects of your body’s protective mechanisms. These can get you through a crisis that includes injury, but the effects are limited and temporary. Physical suffering is likely just delayed.

The fight-or-flight response

You’re probably familiar with the effects of adrenaline. It’s that rush you feel after a roller coaster ride or other high-thrill activity. Adrenaline release, though, has a more practical function. It provides you with the energy necessary to defend yourself in life-threatening situations, as well as setting up your body to absorb and overcome injury, at least temporarily.

The sudden and shocking nature of most car accidents are more than enough to trigger an adrenaline release.

Endorphins are another chemical byproduct of the fight-or-flight response. These are feel-good neurotransmitters in smaller quantities, the chemicals that give you the feeling of well-being when eating foods you enjoy, for example. When they’re released in quantity, such as after an auto collision, their purpose is to mask pain and maintain your sense of well-being through a crisis.

Injuries that are often delayed after an accident

These two natural responses by your body can cover up physical symptoms of injuries you sustain during the auto collision. Tremendous energy forces generate at the time of the accident, transferred through your body. Even low-speed collisions are jarring, particularly when it doesn’t take much in the first place to create the snapping action of whiplash.

Whiplash isn’t a single injury, and it may manifest itself differently in every accident victim. Instead, it’s a collection of musculoskeletal symptoms typically involving the head, neck, shoulders, and upper back.

The force of the collision can upset the alignment and balance of the components of your cervical spine. The effects of adrenaline and endorphins can block whiplash symptoms, and it can take time for soft tissue pain to develop, as your muscles start to deal with joint misalignment.

The same is true throughout your spine, into your lower back. Your symptoms could also include nerve responses, often revealed by tingling and numbness, as misalignments cause irritation of nerves. These irritations can also take time to develop in response to your collision. Abdominal pain can stem from strained core muscles, or it could be a sign of internal damage or bleeding.

Medical attention is imperative

No matter how major or minor your collision, or how good or bad you feel immediately after, contact Williamson County Integrative Medicine as soon as possible after your accident to schedule an exam.

While you probably have no serious injuries, you should confirm this, particularly since it’s an important part of the after-accident procedure. Insurance claims may later need a record of your medical treatment, showing due diligence on your part in the event of late-emerging injuries.

Offering chiropractic and pain management services, Williamson County Integrative Medicine is well-suited to treat most musculoskeletal injuries sustained in auto accidents. Prompt treatment may even restore alignment and balance before serious pain begins. Call today or use the online booking tool to schedule an appointment.

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