Automobile accidents and crashes can cause all kinds of damage to the body even when the accident/crash is not severe. Physical symptoms might not present at all for several days, even weeks. This is known as having delayed injury symptoms. These can include:
- Pain that radiates all over the body.
- Sleep problems.
- Brain fog.
- Memory problems.
Chiropractic and physical therapy rehabilitation can restore the body’s alignment, stop inflammation, loosen, stretch and strengthen the musculoskeletal system restoring optimal health.
When the body is involved in a dangerous physical situation, it protects itself by releasing a surge of adrenaline. This hormone protects the body, causing the fight or flight response when in danger. Adrenaline causes several preservation responses that include:
- Intense increase in energy.
- Little or no pain.
- Enlarged blood vessels and airways increase oxygen flow.
- Increased strength from increased blood flow to the muscles.
- Changes in vision and hearing that focus on sights and sounds all around.
- Endorphins are released that make the body feel calm and in control.
- Endorphins affect the way the body responds to pain and stress.
Individuals don’t start feeling aches and pains until the adrenaline and endorphins wear off. However, because everybody is different and the emergency response has turned off, the body still might not feel the injury symptoms. These are delayed injury symptoms.
Rate of Speed
When riding in a vehicle, the body moves at the same speed as the vehicle. During an impact, the vehicle stops, but the body continues moving until it stops, typically with a lot of force from the seatbelt, airbag, or other barriers. The intense momentum change can cause soft tissue damage and ligament or muscle strains from the stretching, pulling, contracting, and tearing. Also, the intervertebral discs can tear, bulge, or herniate over time, creating pressure on nerves and the surrounding tissues.
Delayed Injury Symptoms
- Headaches that develop days after an accident/crash are common.
- They can signal a possible injury to the neck or head, a blood clot on the brain, or a concussion.
- Loss of feeling in arms and hands could indicate a whiplash-associated disorder.
- The loss of feeling/sensation results from damage to the neck or spinal column.
- Around 20 percent of individuals impacted by a rear-end crash develop some whiplash symptoms.
Neck or Shoulder Pain and/or Stiffness
- Whiplash is a classic delayed symptom injury associated with accidents.
- Most delayed whiplash injuries are caused by rear-end vehicle collisions at speeds of less than 14 miles an hour.
- Whiplash injuries usually require x-rays, CT scans, or MRIs for proper diagnosis.
Abdominal Pain or Swelling
- This could indicate internal bleeding.
- Internal bleeding can remain undiscovered for hours or days.
- This can be a life-threatening condition that needs to be diagnosed and treated by emergency medical personnel.
- Other symptoms include:
- Large areas of deep bruising.
Back Aches and Pains
- Back pain can be caused by injury to the muscles, ligaments, nerves, or damage to the vertebrae.
- Low back pain occurs in more than half of rear-impact collisions and almost three-quarters of side-impact crashes.
After an accident, soft tissues can sustain minimal damage; however, the minimal damage left untreated can start to worsen and turn into a painful condition. Emergency room visits are to rule out major injuries like brain/nerve injuries, bleeding, punctures, lacerated organs, fractures that require emergency stabilization. Chiropractors look for other symptoms and mechanisms that indicate damage to the body’s soft tissues and nerves to see if they have been stretched or torn and dysfunction in the nervous system.
Counting calories can be a stepping stone to change behavior towards food. Tracking what foods are being taken into the body promotes mindfulness of dietary habits. Studies on the subject reveal a significant association between self-monitoring and weight loss. Takeaways include:
- Take small steps by saying no to second portions during dinner or take a healthy sweet snack or piece of fruit instead of a pastry, cookie, etc.
- Try to start making a habit of eating less processed foods.
- Processed foods take fewer calories to digest than unprocessed foods.
- This leads the body to store the excess as fat.
- Try to pair carbs with protein and fat in every meal.
- Meals high in protein and fiber are generally more filling, making the body feel fuller from fewer calories.
- The more attention there is to the food choices, the more likely reexamination occurs.
Burke, Lora E et al. “Self-monitoring in weight loss: a systematic review of the literature.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association vol. 111,1 (2011): 92-102. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2010.10.008
D’Elia, Michael A et al. “Motor vehicle collision with seatbelt sign and traumatic abdominal wall hernia should raise suspicion for hollow viscus injury.” Trauma case reports vol. 22 100206. 25 May. 2019, doi:10.1016/j.tcr.2019.100206
Kacprzynski, Gregory, and Joshua Bucher. “Delayed vertebral artery dissection after mild trauma in a motor vehicle collision.” The American Journal of emergency medicine vol. 45 (2021): 678.e1-678.e2. doi:10.1016/j.ajem.2020.11.028
Olinger, Catherine, and Richard Bransford. “Upper Cervical Trauma.” The Orthopedic clinics of North America vol. 52,4 (2021): 451-479. doi:10.1016/j.ocl.2021.05.013
Sterling, Michele. “Whiplash-associated disorder: musculoskeletal pain and related clinical findings.” The Journal of manual & manipulative therapy vol. 19,4 (2011): 194-200. doi:10.1179/106698111X13129729551949
The information herein on "Delayed Injury Symptoms" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified health care professional.
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