• Why Pain After an Auto Accident is Often Delayed

    on Jun 7th, 2018

There’s a reason why car collisions are called accidents. These are unexpected events that don’t occur very often, and since you’re not used to the experience, your nervous system has a different response than it does to things that happen to you every day. The sudden impact, loud noise, and surprise combine to start the “fight-or-flee” response, and one feature of this biological reaction delays the onset of symptoms from injuries.

When you’re involved in a collision, you can experience substantial musculoskeletal injury, but you may not feel its effects for hours or even days after the accident itself. Seeking treatment after a collision, even if you feel nothing wrong, is a smart choice to ensure you’re not suffering down the road.

Choosing Enhanced Medical Center, an integrative medicine specialist, gives you access to the best combination of treatments for dealing with many of the common delayed injuries that typically follow car accidents.

The effects of endorphins

Opiate drugs such as morphine have a pain-relieving effect on the body since they block pain receptors in your brain. The reason these receptors react to opiates stems from their similarity to a natural neurotransmitter made and used by the body.

Called endorphins, these neurotransmitters get released in the aftermath of a stressful situation as part of your body’s survival mechanisms. If you are injured in a life-threatening situation, experiencing pain may interfere with your ability to remove yourself or otherwise respond to that situation.

The combination of adrenaline and endorphins released in response to the dangerous event combine to give you a temporary burst of strength while suppressing any pain you may experience. As these chemicals enter your system and later disperse, you experience the process of shock.

Common delayed symptoms after a car accident


Even low-speed auto collisions exert enough force to create a whipping motion of your head and neck. This motion can potentially strain soft tissues supporting your head and lead to misalignment of the cervical vertebrae.

Whiplash symptoms typically show up a day or two after a collision, and often the injuries themselves are hard to pinpoint. As well as pain, whiplash may cause numbness or tingling in your arms and hands, a condition called whiplash associated disorder.

Back pain

Lower back pain results from similar musculoskeletal injuries including soft tissue damage and alignment problems with vertebrae, even though this part of your body doesn’t experience the same type of motion that causes whiplash.

Force created by a high mass – your car – suddenly decelerating in an accident, transfers kinetic energy through your body. This transfer creates the disturbances leading to soft tissue injury and misalignment of joints.


Often a symptom of whiplash, headaches may extend for a few days after your collision even if you don’t have whiplash. The strains and forces of impact often result from minor physical injury, and the passage of adrenaline and endorphins may also contribute.


Potentially another symptom of whiplash, dizziness may also be a symptom of concussion. Sometimes, it’s easy to attribute dizziness as a minor reaction to the upset of the accident, but it may also be a sign of more serious injury, so it should not be overlooked.

Abdominal pain

Your body could react to adrenaline with stomach upset, or your core muscles could be strained in a collision. However, in extreme cases, pain in the abdomen, particularly when accompanied by swelling, may indicate internal bleeding, a potentially very dangerous condition that often develops slowly.

Personality changes

A concussion can cause a wide range of symptoms, including changes to your fundamental behavior. You may become irritable, easily frustrated, or depressed after an accident.

Any sign of personality upheavals after an accident should be brought to your caregiver’s attention so that more serious injuries can be investigated.

If you have recently suffered an automobile accident, come to the Enhanced Medical Center of Tempe, Arizona for a complete, thorough examination. Call today or book an appointment online.

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