Getting in a car accident can be a traumatic experience – even if you consider the collision to be minor. Initially, you may have been fortunate enough to walk away from the accident unharmed. But perhaps days or even weeks later, the pain starts to set in.

It’s not uncommon to experience delayed painful symptoms after getting into a car wreck. In many cases, you may not even realize you have sustained an injury after a mild fender-bender. Some testing has indicated that whiplash-like injuries can occur at speeds as low as 5 mph.

Even if you feel fine after a car accident, it’s essential that you undergo a medical evaluation as soon as possible to ensure that you are okay. Minor injuries and even some severe injuries may not present any symptoms right away.

Neck and shoulder pain

If you experience neck and shoulder pain in the days or weeks following your accident, it is likely a symptom of whiplash – especially if you were involved in a rear-end collision. More than one million Americans suffer whiplash injuries each year. While symptoms can resolve on their own, as many as half of these cases will experience pain for a year or longer.

Numbness

Many people will experience sensations of numbness in their hands or arms after their car accident. Delayed numbness may be another symptom of a whiplash-type injury. The loss of feeling is related to injury or damage to your neck or spinal column. Again, while these symptoms may resolve on their own, they have the potential to turn into chronic pain over time.

Headaches

It’s common to start experiencing headaches in the days following your accident. Headaches could be related to whiplash or other injuries to the head and neck but may also be symptomatic of potentially serious damage. Headaches could mean that you have a blood clot or have even sustained a concussion from your car accident.

Stomach pain or swelling

You may not think twice if you get a bad stomachache a few days after an accident. However, abdominal pain or swelling may be a sign you have internal bleeding, which can be life-threatening. Large purple bruises, dizziness or fainting are also indicators of internal bleeding.

PTSD

Injuries after a car accident aren’t always physical. Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a frequent occurrence after auto accidents – especially for children. Victims may feel haunted by their collision or scared to get behind the wheel again. They may also have flashbacks and feel as though they are reliving the event over and over.

No matter how you feel after an auto accident, be sure to have your injuries assessed immediately afterwards. Even minor accidents can lead to major injuries and medical bills down the road.