We’ve all heard it, and perhaps even said it ourselves, “I’ll just wait a day or two to see if the pain and stiffness goes away.” While that may be okay to determine whether you have a cold or flu coming on, it can be a tragic mistake if you were recently in a car accident.
Pain is a symptom of something more serious
Medical experts often complain that too many people wait too long before seeking medical treatment for aches and pains. Do they expect to see people every time they stub a toe? No, but following a traumatic event like a serious fall on ice or a minor car accident, it should be assumed the ache and stiffness is a sign of a deeper problem.
In an online article about the seriousness of spinal cord injuries, the Mayo Clinic is clear when it says that the time between suffering the injury and seeking medical treatment is critical for effective treatment. The more serious the injury, like to the spinal cord or head, the more important it is not to take any chances by delaying.
Three of the most common types of injuries that people ignore:
Headaches, including migraines: Doctors will tell you that a brain injury is the first injury to happen in an accident, but often the last to be diagnosed. A headache is always a symptom of something causing undue pressure on the brain. Even a minor bump with no obvious concussion symptoms can result in developing a subdural hematoma. Despite a large number of website pages discussing the symptoms of a traumatic brain injury, self-diagnosis that you will be okay is not recommended. According to the website BrainLine, an in-depth neurological exam is required to assess sensory skills and proper functioning of the cranial nerves.
Neck pain, shoulder stiffness: We all wake up with a stiff neck once in a while. But following a car accident, a stiff and sore neck or shoulders may be an indication of whiplash or other injuries caused by sudden acceleration and deceleration of the upper body. Tendons, ligaments and even vertebrae may be seriously damaged. Often, an MRI will be required to determine the full extent of the injury, as X-Rays only reveal damage to bones.
Back pain: Next to a possible traumatic brain injury, waiting to seek medical attention for a back injury may be the most injurious to your long-term health. Injuries to the spinal cord and spinal column don’t always result in immediate paralysis. Long-term effects can take time to develop. Seeking treatment immediately is critical. Some corollary symptoms of a serious back injury may include numbness and a tingling or burning sensation in the hands and feet.
Ignoring aches and pains after an accident doesn’t make you a hero
If you have a sneaky suspicion that even a minor ache, pain or stiffness is related to a car accident or other type of traumatic event to your body, don’t wait to see what will happen next. It’s your body you’re dealing with here and you will need it the rest of your life. Seek medical attention. Chances are, you will need some level of medical treatment.