Hidden Auto Accident Injuries

Advance Health Blog

Hidden Auto Accident Injuries

Chris Goetz - Thursday, January 21, 2016

These Auto Accident Injuries Do Not Always Reveal Themselves Immediately

Goetz with CaptionAuto accident injuries are not always immediately apparent. Part of the reason is the hormones and endorphins that the body produces during a stressful event like a car accident. These natural chemicals can make one unaware of the pain from their injuries and make them feel as if nothing is wrong. To further complicate matters, some injuries may not even show up on X-rays or MRI’s. For these reasons it is important to be aware of how your body feels for days and even weeks after an accident, paying attention for any pain and discomfort that reveals itself later.

Here are some of the most common types of injuries you could suffer in an auto accident that sometimes do not reveal themselves immediately:

  • Whiplash
  • Concussion
  • Spinal Injury
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)


Whiplash is a neck injury that is caused by a forceful and rapid back and forth movement of the neck. The name comes from the movement’s similarity to the cracking of a whip. It is most often seen occurring during auto accidents that involve a rear end collision. Whiplash is sometimes referred to as a neck strain or sprain, but there are other types of neck injuries that fall under those descriptions.

A victim of whiplash may experience neck pain, stiffness, numbness, and spasms as well as headaches and dizziness. Left untreated whiplash could develop into chronic neck pain. The reason this type of injury is not immediately recognized is because some of the symptoms may not appear for a few days and those symptoms can be mistaken as being caused by another type of injury.


A concussion is categorized as a mild traumatic brain injury. It can be caused by a blow to the head as well as a violent shaking of the head or upper body. Most concussions are temporary and can be treated with rest. Concussions are often hidden injuries because most of the symptoms can be caused by other injuries. On some occasions concussions can cause loss of consciousness. Here are some of the symptoms that may point to a concussion:

  • Headaches
  • Memory Loss
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of balance and coordination

Spinal Injury

One would think that a spinal injury is not likely to go unnoticed. In most cases that is true. However, facet syndrome is a type of spinal injury that could easily be mistaken for something else. Facet syndrome is the irritation of the joints on the back of the vertebrae. These joints are responsible for many of the twisting movements of the body. They can be impacted in an auto accident. Often the pain from facet syndrome is a dull ache which can easily be attributed to soreness from being in an auto accident. More serious symptoms could appear later and include chronic pain and loss of mobility.

In other cases spinal injury symptoms are simply confused for different injuries. Pain or numbness in the extremities, for example, is not uncommon.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD is a mental health condition that can be triggered by a stressful or frightening experience. It is not caused by an actual physical injury to the brain and is therefore not apparent immediately following an accident. Instead, the symptoms will develop over time and sometimes continue to worsen for weeks or months. Some common symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares

PTSD is treated with counseling or psychiatric care.

The reality is that you should see a doctor after being involved in any kind of auto accident, no matter how seemingly small. At Advance Health Services we work to heal accident victims every day. Our doctors and physical therapists employ a range of tests that could reveal hidden injuries before symptoms appear, allowing us to begin treatment right away. If you are involved in an accident call us to make an appointment.

Dr. Chris Goetz was an offensive lineman with the San Diego Chargers and New York Jets from 1990-1992. Having seen the benefits of therapy as he recuperated from his NFL injuries, he decided to enroll in Chiropractic Medicine school and dedicate himself to bringing relief and wellness to others. He has been Owner/Director of Advance Health Services of Miami since 1999.