Why You May Not Initially Feel Pain
When you are involved in a motor vehicle collision your initial response is triggered by the spinal cord to cause the sympathetic system to activate the fight or flight response. This response originates from ancient survival instincts such as having to flee from danger like a Sabre Tooth Tiger chasing you.
It causes you to be able to run faster from danger, or freeze to avoid danger, and possibly fight that danger. None essential systems shut down such as digestion, and adrenaline is released to enhance the body’s systems which are more essential for survival. Blood is directed to the essential muscles to run and/or fight off the peril. You will get tunnel vision to allow you to focus on your escape route and peripheral vision will be stunted. You will hyperventilate which is your body’s way to increase oxygen to the muscles and the heart will pump faster to give muscles more blood.
This happens instantaneously and is not caused by conscious thought. This will explain why you initially may not feel pain. When asked how you feel you may say I feel fine because you are not bleeding and can still move.
Why Secondary Pain May Show Up Later
I have worked with many patients involved in motor vehicle collisions, who initially state they only have neck pain. The neck pain may begin to improve after a few weeks, and only later does secondary pain in the low back caused by the rapid rotation of the low back due to the angled placement of the seatbelt becomes more noticeable than the initial neck pain. This, though weeks later can still be contributed to the wreck and explained by your initial neck pain is a level 9 and at the same time, your low back damage was a level 5, and therefore not perceived by you, because the neck pain dulled it out. This is called delayed onset pain.
If you have new symptoms, relay this to your treating Physician and your Attorney
Never assume that you may have slept wrong causing new pain. If you have new symptoms, relay this to your treating Physician and to your Attorney representing you. The Physician will be better able to talk you through the origin of your pain and consult with your attorney, so he has knowledge of your changes in symptoms.
My hope for you is that you never are involved in a motor vehicle collision, and if you have been in one, then it’s your last. If you have been in one and your symptoms change, it is ok. Nerve injury can move from one side to the other or up and down your spine.
Keep open lines of communication with your Physician and Attorney
Keep open lines of communication with your physician and attorney so as a team we can all work together to improve your condition the best possible. If permanent damage occurs, you can be given an impairment rating so your attorney will make sure you get the compensation you deserve after your car wreck. Delayed onset pain can not only occur in your neck or back, but also in your shoulders, arms, legs, and other parts of your body.
By: Doctor Gary De Mott D.C.