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Common late-appearing injuries after car accidents

Some injuries are not immediate or visible

It's highly likely you will sustain injuries from a car accident at some point in your life. There are over 2 million injuries from motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. each year. It is the single greatest cause of injury and death to otherwise healthy citizens.

Some injuries are apparent right after the crash, like broken bones or lacerations. But many crash victims show no visible signs of damage because the injuries are internal. The rush of adrenaline after intense events can temporarily mask the pain, causing victims to say "I'm OK" and waive off the ambulance. The hidden injuries may not surface until days or weeks later.

Spinal injuries

Some time after the accident you might feel a sore or stiff neck, back pain, or numbness or tingling or weakness in your limbs. These can be signs of pinched nerves, slipped discs, herniated discs or fractured vertebrae. But without timely diagnosis and treatment, it could lead to chronic pain, nerve damage or paralysis.

Soft tissue injuries

Soft tissue damage can occur in any of the joints: whiplash (neck sprain), back strains, shoulder separations, sprained ankles. Over time, you may suffer from increased pain, a limited range of motion in the joints, or swelling in the affected area. You should never ignore swelling, tenderness or stiffness after a serious auto collision. Ideally, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.

Traumatic brain injuries

The brain sustains a lot of force in a car crash. Even if you do not hit your head on the interior of the car, the brain can be injured by striking the inside of the skull at impact. Concussions are common after car accidents, and sometimes there can be a skull fracture or dangerous internal bleeding in the brain. Any of these injuries may not be immediately visible. Symptoms may be delayed for hours or days - dizziness, nausea, ringing in the ears, sleepiness, memory loss, inability to concentrate. Crash victims who show any indicators of brain injury need to undergo testing immediately to determine the extent of the damage.

If any of these injuries are suspected, it is vital to see a doctor right away. Timely medical treatment and follow-up is not only the key to recovery, but key to a personal injury claim if another driver was at fault for the accident.

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