You don’t always feel your injuries immediately after a collision. Adrenaline and endorphins can mask your pain up to 48 hours after the crash has occurred.
Feeling sore after a car accident, no matter how minor, is the most common symptom people experience. The reason for this soreness is due to microscopic injuries to soft tissue. Strains, sprains, and internal bruising can affect muscles, ligaments, and other bodily structures.
What to expect physically after a car accident depends on each person. One person can walk away from a rear-end crash feeling just fine and have no problems afterward. Another person could suffer debilitating back pain.
No two car accidents are the same. To be on the safe side, get checked out by a medical professional at the earliest opportunity to rule out serious underlying conditions.
How Long Should You Be Sore After a Car Accident?
Delayed pain after a wreck is normal; prolonged pain that lasts for days or weeks is not. If you’re continually sore or experiencing sharp or agonizing pain often, skip the home remedies and go see your primary care physician.
For minor soreness and pain that only lasts a couple of days, the key to a speedy recovery is rest. The best thing you can do is rest and de-stress.
Simple At-Home Remedies
For the pain, you can use over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Heat therapy, such as heating pads or a hot bath, can help relax muscles and soothe aches.
To reduce any swelling or bruising, remember the RICE method for injuries:
- Rest - Pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. Forcing yourself to keep going through the pain will only make things worse. Rest as much as possible for two days. Avoid putting weight on or using a body part that is bruised or sore.
- Ice - Apply an ice pack or frozen bag of produce (use a towel to wrap around it to prevent frostbite) for up to 20 minutes every few hours during the first day or two after the injury. Cold is a good way to reduce pain and swelling.
- Compression - Another way to reduce swelling is to wrap the injured area. Use an elastic medical bandage. Wrap the area snug — don’t wrap the injury too tight or it will cut off blood flow. If the skin below the wrap feels cold, numb, tingly, or turns blue, loosen the bandage.
- Elevation - A final way to reduce throbbing and swelling is to raised the sore body part above your heart level. This can be as simple as propping up your leg while sitting on the sofa or laying on your side.
Exercise, stretching, staying hydrated, and surrounding yourself with a healthy support system can help you recover and get back to doing the activities you enjoy.
In some cases, it may also help to get chiropractic care or a massage. With time and rest, most people recover just fine after a car accident.
Experiencing Delayed Pain After an Accident
Minor aches and pain sometimes don’t go away or get worse after a crash. If you’re suffering any of the following symptoms, you need to seek medical care ASAP as they could be a warning sign of a serious injury:
- Back pain
- Bowel issues
- Constant headaches
- Leg pain
- Lower abdominal pain
- Mood swings
- Neck pain
- Shoulder pain
- Sleeping a lot
What Doctor to See After a Car Accident
An important step to take after a car accident is scheduling a visit to the doctor’s office or virtual consultation. Even if you don’t think your injuries are serious, it’s better to be safe than sorry later on.
If you don’t think you need to go to the hospital emergency room or urgent care facility, book an appointment with your primary care doctor. Tell them the reason for your visit is due to a motor vehicle collision so that they know they should see you at the earliest opportunity.
Let them know what kinds of pain you are feeling. Don’t downplay your symptoms. You want your doctor to give an accurate diagnosis.
If a doctor or specialist gives you a treatment plan, follow it until you are told to stop. Just because you start feeling better doesn’t mean you should stop treating. Your doctor is in the best position to make that call. Your medical records of consistent treatment will document your recovery journey and can be used as proof to the insurance company that you were as hurt as you claimed to be if you have to file a car accident injury claim later on.
What If Your Post-Accident Pain Doesn’t Go Away
Maybe you’ve done everything you can to try to feel better. Maybe you were hurt in a wreck but you didn’t seek out an urgent care facility because you don’t have health insurance and you hoped you would eventually get better on your own.
But the pain hasn’t gone away, or your symptoms have gotten worse.
First, see a healthcare professional. A quick Google search can’t give you an accurate diagnosis the way an in-person examination by a medical professional can. That’s because not all serious injuries are visible — concussions, spinal disc injuries, bone fractures, and other internal traumatic injuries happen more frequently than most people realize.
Next, talk to a car accident lawyer, especially if your injuries turn out to be more serious than you first thought. At Gary Martin Hays & Associates, our Atlanta personal injury attorneys can refer you to doctors and other medical specialists who live near you. We can also work to ensure the insurance companies pay to cover the cost of your medical treatment.
Many of our clients contact our law office days or weeks after the incident, not sure what their next step should be. The good news is in Georgia you are allowed to file a personal injury claim up to two years after a car accident happens.
But the sooner you file, the easier it is to win your case. If you have questions, talk to us. We offer free consultations for car accident injury victims and their families.
Read More: Emergency Car Accident Kit Checklist