Broken bones, whiplash, and lacerations are all easily identifiable injuries after an auto accident. However, drivers and passengers alike can also suffer a host of unseen complications that may not surface for days or weeks. Here are five hidden injuries to watch out for after being involved in a car accident.
1. Herniated Discs
Neck and back strains are common and often the cause of whiplash, but they can be more serious than the pain felt from strained muscles. The force of two vehicles colliding can be enough to rupture the tissue between your spine’s vertebrae.
The tissue will balloon outward from the spinal column, eventually breaking. This puts pressure on the nerves, causing severe pain, and can lead to a loss of feeling in the limbs. A herniated disc requires surgery to heal.
2. Traumatic Brain Injuries
Brain injuries are one of the most difficult to detect, with many never aware that they’ve been affected at all. The symptoms are so wide ranging and more research is needed, but experts have detected a long list of potential complications that can be short-lived or last a lifetime.
3. Knee Injuries
As a result of the collision, many drivers or passengers are lunged forward and his their knees off the dashboard. Direct injuries can include fractures and shatters, but damage to the cartilage can be tough to detect.
This can lead to a torn meniscus or patellar chondromalacia. Both require surgery, but may not expose themselves until the pain becomes obvious from inflammation. When the pain does set in, it’s excruciating.
4. Shoulder Injuries
The shoulder underneath the seatbelt is susceptible to damage in an accident. It takes the force on that side of the body as your other shoulder goes up in the air. This can cause deep bruising, strains, and torn ligaments.
If left untreated, shoulder injuries worsen until they turn into chronic conditions or pain. Torn ligaments require surgery, but others may only need physical therapy or chiropractic care to treat. Always get an impact on your shoulder examined by a doctor, car accident or otherwise.
A helpful tool to use during this time is a posture corrector to help with any shoulder issues.
5. Psychological Injuries
If the accident is severe enough to cause trauma or creates a perceived threat, then psychological injuries are likely to develop. These often lead to mild PTSD symptoms, but can become severe if the person has certain risk factors.
Some develop phobias about cars or driving, while others enter deep states of anxiety and depression. Psychological injuries are very difficult to identify until they begin to impact daily life. They also require the aid of a therapist or psychologist to heal. Other symptoms can include:
- Recurring nightmares and reliving the event while awake
- Avoidance mechanisms to steer away from reminders of the event
- A sense of hopelessness
- Emotional numbness
- Being easily startled, irritable, or becoming aggressive
- Overwhelming guilt
- Difficulty sleeping and concentrating
- Reckless behavior that would normally be avoided
- Memory issues
If you see a change in yourself or a loved one, don’t hesitate to seek help. Even mild PTSD can be life threatening as it alters the way a person thinks, taking away control over their emotions and actions. In worst-case scenarios, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-237-8255.