You’re sitting at a traffic light and, out of nowhere, you’re rear-ended. Or, perhaps you’re crossing an intersection at the same time as another vehicle and you collide. There are six million car accidents in the United States each year that occur for a wide variety of reasons.
Whatever the circumstances surrounding your car accident, these events can lead to considerable trauma in your body, some of which you may not register right away.
From his practice in the greater Los Angeles area, primary care physician and emergency medicine doctor Michael Bazel, M.D., specializes in car accident injuries. He understands how symptoms may be delayed, which is why we recommend that you come see us anytime you’ve been in a car wreck, symptoms or no. Here’s why.
The power of your stress response
When you’re in a car accident, your body immediately initiates a fight-or-flight response, which starts with the release of stress hormones, mainly cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones cause physiological changes in your body that allow you to better address a potentially dangerous situation.
Among these physiological changes is pain suppression. Your body puts your pain on the back burner so you can address the situation at hand, which means it may be awhile before you feel any discomfort after your car accident.
Delayed discomfort in your soft tissues
Another issue when it comes to car accidents is that you may not register the full brunt of soft tissue damage right away. To illustrate this point, consider how you feel immediately after a particularly hard workout — tired, but great. The next day, however, it can feel like every muscle in your body is groaning in pain.
The same holds true after a car accident. Whether you’ve strained muscles in your lower back or connective tissue in your neck, the symptoms from this soft tissue damage are often delayed.
The benefits of immediate help
Rather than waiting for symptoms to develop after a car accident, we think it’s a good idea to have us check you out as soon as possible.
During your visit, we review the nature of the accident to determine where we should look for potential damage. For example, if we notice any bruising starting to form around your chest or shoulder, we look for seat belt injuries.
Another area of concern is whether you developed whiplash, which is a common car accident injury that occurs when your head is rocked violently back and forth. Not only does whiplash strain the ligaments in your neck, but it also compresses your cervical spine and may cause damage to your vertebrae.
We also evaluate for head injuries, such as a concussion, which can have delayed symptoms.
The bottom line is that we check you from head to toe, which allows us to quickly identify and treat any potential problems we identify. Even if we find nothing wrong, you have peace of mind knowing that the damage was limited to your car.
If you’ve been in a car accident, call one of our conveniently located offices in Panorama City, Bell, and Valley Village, California, for our expert urgent care. For less immediate issues, you can also request an appointment online.