If you’ve been involved in an auto accident in Colorado, seek medical attention whether you feel injured or not. Some injuries may be obvious, but others may not manifest for some time.

What Victims of Colorado Auto Accidents Should Look Out for and What a Doctor Will Examine

Car accidents can cause many different types of injuries to virtually any part of the body, depending on the circumstances surrounding the crash and the severity of the impact. Here are some common injuries associated with auto accidents:

Pain in the Neck

Common neck injuries suffered in car accidents include fractures, strains, and sprains. A neck fracture is a break in one or more of the cervical bones (vertebrae) in the neck and can be caused by a severe, sudden twist to the neck or a severe blow to the head. A person who has a suspected neck injury should seek medical care immediately.

Although neck strains and sprains, such as whiplash, are often not considered serious injuries, the pain that these injuries cause can be substantial. Symptoms of neck strains and sprains typically include difficulty and pain when moving or attempting to turn the head or the neck.

Whiplash, when the body and head move in opposite directions at the point where the neck joints align, is the most common type of injury sustained by victims of rear-end collisions. It does not take a particularly high-speed or powerful crash to cause whiplash, and even someone involved in a “fender-bender” can end up with this painful injury — in fact, most whiplash injuries occur as the result of a rear-end crash at speeds of less than 14 miles per hour. A doctor will examine a patient to determine whether he has suffered whiplash, and may also order X-rays or an MRI of the neck to check for other injuries.

Debilitating Back Pain

The lower back is the most common site for collision-related back injuries, which might include:

  • Sprains, the stretching or tearing of a ligament.
  • Strains, an injury to a muscle or tendon that supports the spine.
  • Herniated discs, also known as slipped or ruptured discs that are broken or deformed.
  • Fractured vertebrae, when the individual bones of the spine become compressed because of trauma.

Back injuries can cause long-lasting, debilitating pain, can limit mobility, and often do not show up until several days or weeks after a car accident, making it difficult to obtain a prompt diagnosis.

Auto Accidents Are Dangerous for the Spine

The spinal cord links the brain to the rest of the body. When it is healthy, it carries messages that facilitate motor control and sensory function. When an auto accident causes injury to the spine and damages the bundle of nerves within it, a spinal cord injury occurs. A spinal cord injury can impair the brain’s ability to send messages to the body and result in paralysis, either complete (total numbness and paralysis in the affected part of the body), or incomplete, where some sensation or movement remains.

Traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injury, or TBI, occurs when a sudden trauma damages the brain and interferes with its function. Traumatic brain injury may not show up for several hours after an auto accident, and anyone with signs of TBI — nausea, dizziness, slurred speech, and excessive sleepiness — should seek medical care immediately. The severity of a traumatic brain injury depends largely upon the degree and location of the injury, as well as the age and general health of the victim.

Seeking Immediate Medical Care Is Essential

Many times injured persons may refuse medical care at the accident scene, only to have pain and inflammation develop later on. The best course of action following a car accident is to seek medical treatment immediately, since soft-tissue injuries are not often apparent, and may take days or even weeks to manifest.

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