Neck strain is one of the most common injuries sustained during a car accident, and it can also be one of the sneakiest when it comes to presenting symptoms. According to WebMD, pain associated with this type of personal injury can take anywhere from minutes to weeks to manifest, so it’s important to treat car wreck injuries right away, or your medical bills can be even higher in the future.
When pain after a car accident is delayed, it is typically associated with whiplash in the public mind, but that is not always the cause. Concussions and nerve injuries are also common in car accidents, and both can cause delayed onset of pain as well.
Major Symptoms of Delayed Accident Pain from Neck Strain
There are a few common ways neck strain presents after an accident, and it could show up quickly enough for same-day treatment or as delayed pain. If any of these symptoms show up post-accident but seem to be late enough that you wonder whether they are related to it, the best course of action is to seek a medical opinion about the injuries so your insurance company can be notified if there’s an issue.
So, what are the common signs of neck strain that might lead you to need an auto injury doctor?
- Hard or knotted muscles in the neck, shoulders, upper back and chest area
- Headaches, typically starting at the base of the skull and radiating toward the forehead
- Decreased range of motion in the neck and associated tightness
- Tenderness in the neck and shoulders, scalp, forehead, or any nearby areas
- Pain associated with rocking the head either forward and back or side to side
Patients experiencing delayed pain could find themselves with one or all the symptoms. The diversity of presentation is one of the things that can make tracking down delayed pain symptoms difficult for doctors.
Seeing an auto injury doctor in the Bronx who has experience with delayed accident pain can help substantiate whether symptoms are related to whiplash or possibly another accident-related injury that caused delayed pain.
Can Pain Be Delayed by Nerve Injuries?
Peripheral nerve injuries that cause long-term pain can also be sustained during a car accident. These injuries can happen to any part of the body. They often lead to neuropathic pain, and the chance of developing it grows with age. This pain can emerge weeks or months after an accident.
This is why treating with a neurologist is important if you experience delayed onset of pain after an auto accident. While it is not exceedingly common, it is possible to wind up with nerve damage in areas usually associated with whiplash pain. If that is the case, it needs to be treated as soon as possible so as to address the root cause of the pain.
Types of Nerve Damage and Symptoms
There are three basic types of nerves in your nervous system. Depending on which types are damaged and where the damage is, you could experience anything from mild occasional discomfort to serious life-changing effects. Often, the first symptoms you notice are numbness or tingling.
If that is the case, it’s a good idea to seek medical attention before you develop more profound symptoms related to the specific damaged nerve types.
- Sensory nerves provide the brain feedback about touch sensations including the movement of air on skin, object textures and heat or cold feelings, as well as pain signals from injuries
- Motor nerves control your range of motion at both the gross and fine levels, and the level of impairment experienced from their injury depends on the severity of the wound and the exact nerves affected
- Autonomic nerves regulate the body’s subconscious or unconscious processes like breathing, digestion and heart rate. Damage to the autonomic nervous system may result in dizziness and fainting, digestion, sweating too much or too little.
When sensory nerves are damaged, loss of sensitivity and neuropathic pain are the most common symptoms. Distinguishing the exact nerves damaged and assessing treatment options requires a specialist who understands the impact of damage from car accidents and how it often leads to long-term nerve damage.
Concussions Causing Pain After a Car Crash May Be Delayed
The CDC reports there were 223,050 hospitalizations related to traumatic brain injury (TBI) during the 2018 year, the most recent for which they provide that data. They also estimate that roughly half of all concussions go totally undetected, leaving an unknown number of them that are diagnosed but not serious enough to lead to hospitalization for brain injury.
It’s not uncommon for auto accidents to cause concussions or for mild ones to go unnoticed among other symptoms, but even mild concussions can lead to serious delayed symptoms down the road.
- Headaches, including migraines, are common long-term TBI/concussion symptoms
- Memory loss, seizures, and other neurological symptoms also occur regularly and neurologists who work with car accident victims look for the signs they have occurred
- Slurred speech and motor control issues can also present as TBI/concussion injury symptoms
Concussions and nerve damage can occur alongside other accident injuries like neck strain that cause delayed pain. They can also present on their own, because the kind of stretching, impact pressure, or nerve tearing that causes injury can happen even under circumstances that do not cause broken limbs or other serious signs of trauma.
Seeking Treatment from a Car Accident Doctor for Delayed Accident Pain
Since delayed pain from car accidents could have its origins in either the nervous system or in soft tissue damage, it is a good idea to explore all your options. Many of the kinds of pain associated with neck pain could also be associated with nerve damage in the area.
It is also common to experience a concussion with neck strain injuries, so an appointment with a neurologist experienced in treating accident injuries in the Bronx is always a good idea after a crash that involves any head trauma. Once nerve damage and concussions are either treated or ruled out, it’s easier to approach healing the muscles and other soft tissues that were impacted by the accident.
Chronic pain management for neck injuries, broken bones, spinal cord injuries, and other serious trauma can entail a range of treatments from medication, to physical therapy, to surgery. Primary care doctors will typically refer automobile accident patients to a neurologist for this type of medical care.
Accident doctors at Medical Clinics of NYC have experience treating pain after a car accident or personal injury that is delayed by weeks or months, and they can help you understand your options for healing. If you suspect that recently developed pain is related to a crash, the best thing to do is to get a referral from your primary care physician or make an appointment with a car injury doctor today.