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Why Do Patients Experience Delayed Pain After Accidents?

Delayed Pain After Accidents

If you need help finding a doctor after an accident, call our team at (516) 593-7990.

If you recently experienced a car accident in Long Island, New York, you might wonder if or when to seek physical therapy in Valley Stream. If you don’t feel any new pain, you might think you walked away completely unscathed. This especially applies to people without any physically noticeable injuries.

However, delayed pain after an accident can take anywhere from a few hours to several days to manifest. You may not even notice anything wrong for months in some instances. While car accidents only last a few minutes, the injuries you incur could last a lifetime without prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a lack of sufficient attention from a medical professional can escalate the severity of your injuries post-crash. This means that injuries you ignore or don’t notice at first can worsen over time, limiting your range of motion and chipping away at your quality of life.

But why does delayed pain occur? What injuries may take time to notice? You can find answers to these questions and more when you continue reading. 

What Happens to Your Body Right After a Car Accident?

When you experience a car accident, you have a rush of adrenaline directly after its occurrence. While you and the other driver exchange information or call first responders to the scene, adrenaline keeps your mind going through the necessary paces.

Adrenaline, a hormone responsible for fight-or-flight responses,  plays an important role in how you conduct yourself and perceive your surroundings after any jarring event. It can give you a spike of energy by temporarily expanding your blood vessels. This improves your oxygen intake, which may strengthen your body and heighten your situational awareness. 

However, you may not feel immediate pain as a result of the adrenaline coursing through your body. Adrenaline rushes can last anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.

Additionally, many accident injuries won’t manifest for even longer periods. When your car suddenly stops moving during the accident, your body continues its previous momentum until obstacles like seatbelts or airbags stop it. This can damage soft tissues like ligaments or discs; such tissues swell and create new pressure that may take time to notice.    

Injuries That Can Take Time for You to Notice

NBC New York states that Nassau County ranked third for highest auto fatalities in 2021 for New York state. Contributing factors included distracted driving and speeding, which may also cause delayed pain after an accident in many instances.

When you understand the different types of delayed injuries, you can more easily identify them and seek treatment. Prompt treatment helps ensure your full recovery. 

Back and Neck Pain

According to Science Direct, prior car accidents can contribute to up to 63% of continuous pain in the lower back. Since injuries can take days to manifest, your spine is especially vulnerable after a car wreck. Injuries to the back and neck may include:

  • Whiplash injuries to the lower back or neck: The quick movements back and forth cause this injury. 
  • Herniated discs: The discs that sit between each vertebrae rupture, causing some of their membrane to leak out, putting more pressure on the affected vertebrae.
  • Pinched nerves: When you have a pinched nerve, the nerve has too much pressure applied from surrounding bones or muscles. 

Hip and Shoulder Pain

If you experience pain in your hips, you may have sustained hip injuries. Common hip injuries include fractures, dislocation, sprains, and tendonitis.

A car wreck’s impact can cause your hip’s soft tissues to stretch or pull, putting them under a painful strain. Some hip injuries may heal on their own. However, you should speak with a physician to rule out serious damage. 

Likewise, shoulder pain signifies shoulder injuries. Fractures and rips in the rotator cuff can cause chronic pain for months after a car accident. Such injuries prevent a full range of motion, limiting your daily routine and causing serious pain. 


Concussions occur when your brain collides with your skull, often through sudden, hard movement or impact. You may not know you have a concussion until a couple of days after your car accident. This type of injury requires immediate medical attention as it can result in permanent damage or death if left untreated. 

Symptoms of Delayed Pain or Injury

If you can’t feel the pain indicative of an injury immediately, you can learn how symptoms may manifest later. When you identify pain as a result of a previous car accident, you can seek necessary medical treatment and therapy. 

  • Back or neck pain indicates a spinal injury. Even if you have mild pain, seek medical help because the pain can worsen as you age or with added stress. 
  • Headaches, sensitivity to noise or light, and dizziness indicate a concussion. Never ignore sensitivities that you didn’t experience before. 
  • Injuries can result in a decreased range of motion. Even when you don’t associate pain with it, you should seek medical treatment. 
  • If your extremities begin tingling, you should seek treatment. These sensations may indicate a pinched nerve or more severe issues.

After a car accident, record any new pain occurrences or strange sensations following the event. Especially if you initially refused immediate medical treatment, providing a detailed record helps your healthcare provider make important treatment decisions.

Seek Physical Therapy Treatment for Delayed Injuries Today

Physical Therapy Treatment for Delayed Injuries

Car accidents cause serious detriments to your health, affecting your livelihood, family, and quality of life. If you think you have delayed pain after an accident, it’s time to look for New York physical therapy in Valley Stream and Oceanside, NY.

Our physical therapists and doctors accept most insurance plans, including workers’ compensation, no-fault, and PIP (personal injury protection). Same-day appointments may be available. Contact us at Comprehensive Healthcare Group with any questions you have about our options.

Curious to know how long to go to physical therapy after a car accident? Ask our experts today!