Delayed Pain From An Auto Accident

auto injury whiplashWith the rain recently in St Louis, many have experienced auto accidents. Thankfully, most only suffer damage to their vehicles. While many individuals do not initially report injuries, there are those who gradually develop symptoms in the following days. Once the adrenaline from the original shock wears off they begin to notice the areas that are injured.

It is not uncommon to develop symptoms at a later time. Medical experts and researchers from around the globe have found evidence that many cases of “whiplash” type injuries from car accidents can remain hidden for weeks, months and sometimes even years before tell-tale symptoms emerge.1,2,3,4,5,6

  • The symptoms of auto accident related injuries can include:
    * headaches
    * neck pain
    * neck stiffness
    * numbness in hands
    * dizziness
    * fatigue
    * nausea
    * irritability
    * visual disturbances (double vision, blurred vision, loss of sharpness, floaters)

A delay in symptoms is common
Auto accident injuries are much more prevalent and more serious than many people realize and it is quite common for injuries to slowly evolve over a period of days to even months. This is particularly true of lower speed car accident collisions with milder forms of neck sprains.

In these low impact cases, the soft tissue damage is subtle and can be totally silent immediately after the accident. Over a period of time, inflammation sets in and causes swelling of tissues and the release of chemicals that cause irritation to the nervous system and eventually muscle spasm. It is not until these factors reach a certain critical mass that the actual injury is felt as stiffness, soreness, numbness, irritability, headache, etc.

That is why many car accident victims will initially report to the police or paramedics that they are uninjured, yet days, weeks or longer afterwards, the true injury emerges. If you have suffered an auto accident and your symptoms were delayed, it is because your injury was slowly evolving, but does not mean it isn’t serious. Even milder neck injuries have been shown to result in premature arthritis and neurological problems if left untreated.

If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident, please contact our office at (314) 731-4383 or CLICK HERE to call and schedule an injury evaluation. Sometimes the damage is not so obvious!


  1. 1. Croft AC: Whiplash. In Steigerwald DP, Croft AC (eds): Whiplash and Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction: a Interdisciplinary Approach to Case Management. Encinitas, Keiser Publishing, 1992 (in press).
  2. 2. Goldberg AC, Rothfus WE, Deeb ZL, Frankel DG, Wilberger JE Jr, Daffner RH: Hyperextension injuries of the cervical spine. Skeletal Radiol 18: 283-288, 1989.
  3. 3. Deans GT, Magalliard JN, Kerr M, Rutherford WH: Neck sprain — a major cause of disability following care accidents. Injury 18: 10-12, 1987.
  4. 4. Green JD, Harle TS, Harris JH Jr: Anterior subluxation of the cervical spine: hyperflexion sprain. AJNR 2: 243-250, 1981.
  5. 5. Hildingson C, Toolanen G: Outcome after soft-tissue injury of the cervical spine. Acta Orthop Scand 61(4): 357-359, 1990.
  6. 6. Schneider K, Zernicke RF, Clark G: Modeling of jaw-head-neck dynamics during whiplash. J Dent Res 68(9): 1360-1365, 1989.