Do you remember when we used to do a lot of outdoor recreational activities before the COVID-19 pandemic hit? Remember contact sports? Even though it was just a year ago, it feels like it was a lifetime ago when you went on a camping trip with a group of your friends or you or your children played tackle football or soccer without wearing a mask. After a long weekend of sports, you may have even grilled steaks on the barbecue with your friends. You went to bed feeling great. It was only when you woke up the next morning, or perhaps even on Monday, that you started to feel sore from all the tackling. In fact, for the next several days, the soreness got worse before it gradually got better.
Many painful, lingering injuries do not start to hurt until a few days after the event that triggers them. Some of these injuries are common in car accidents, even accidents so minor that you can get back in your car and drive to work after exchanging insurance information with the other driver and talking to a police officer about the accident. Many people reported no injuries to the police officer, only to find out the next day that they are hurt and need medical attention. If you start to suffer any of these symptoms in the days or weeks following a Missouri or Kansas car accident, contact the Kansas City car accident injury lawyers of Foster Wallace, LLC.
Injuries that May Affect you in the Weeks After an Accident
Whiplash injury is one of the most common injuries resulting from car accidents. Whiplash happens when the impact of the collision causes your upper body to make a sudden movement forward and then lurch backward. Most cases of whiplash injury start to show symptoms a few days after the accident. The most common symptoms are pain, soreness, and stiffness in the muscles of the neck and upper back. Sometimes you only notice the discomfort when you turn your head or stretch, but sometimes it keeps bothering you until you take over-the-counter painkillers. In mild cases, the symptoms resolve on their own after a few days or a few weeks, but more severe cases of whiplash injury can cause chronic pain. In the worst cases, whiplash injury can also cause other symptoms, like blurry vision and impaired memory.
A concussion is also a common injury; it can result not only from motor vehicle accidents but also from sports injuries and accidental falls. You probably know someone who has had a concussion and made a full recovery, but a “concussion” sounds scarier when you call it by its medical name – “traumatic brain injury.” With a concussion, you lose consciousness for 30 minutes or less, and you suffer 24 hours or less of memory loss. The symptoms of concussion, such as headache, dizziness, confusion, and nausea, do not always begin immediately. You might feel fine after a car accident in which you hit your head, but then you might start to feel bad several hours later.
Concussions are more than just a bump on the head that you can trust to go away on its own; getting one concussion makes you more susceptible to subsequent ones. Dr. Bennet Omalu, who is portrayed by Will Smith in the movie Concussion, coined the term “chronic traumatic encephalopathy” to refer to the condition suffered by professional football players who had suffered multiple concussions. He linked this condition to the deaths of the professional football players Mike Webster, Justin Strzelczyk, Andre Waters, and Tom McHale, none of whom lived past age 50. The proximate causes of their death ranged from suicide to accidents, but autopsies showed similar evidence of trauma to their brains, and all of them had a documented history of repeated concussions during their athletic careers. In the years leading up to their deaths, they suffered an array of neurological and psychiatric symptoms which Dr. Omalu linked to their concussions.
Even one concussion is enough to keep you not feeling like your normal self for several months. Jane McGonigal, a game developer, gave a TED Talk about the concussion that inspired her to invent the game SuperBetter. After she suffered a concussion, her doctors told her to rest and limit her activities for three months. During that time, her headaches and depression were debilitating. She thought the physical and emotional pain would never end, and she developed the game to help her get through what felt like inescapable misery.
Even weeks or months after the car accident, concussions can cause headaches and a host of other scary symptoms:
- Loss of smell and taste
- Loss of spatial awareness
- Difficulty speaking and processing language
- Memory loss
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Depression and irritability
- Impulsive behavior or poor judgment
The symptoms usually go away eventually, but there is little you can do to shorten their duration.
A herniated disc is an injury to the connective tissue between the bones of the spine. It can be caused by car accidents as well as by other traumatic injuries and heavy lifting. In mild cases, the only symptom is back pain, but that is bad enough. In more severe cases, it can also lead to pain or numbness in the legs or to loss of bladder or bowel control. Treatments include physical therapy, electrical stimulation, massage, and steroid injections. Although these treatments can temporarily relieve symptoms, the pain often recurs.
The Bottom Line
Headaches, neck pain, and back pain that begin days or weeks after a car accident can be a sign of a serious injury. You should seek prompt medical attention and then contact a car accident lawyer. The fact that some serious conditions take several days to manifest themselves is another reason that you should go to the emergency room on the same day of the car accident to be examined; if you start showing symptoms later, you will have a documented record of when the injury occurred.