Sometimes, injuries sustained during car accidents are immediately apparent following a collision. However, under certain circumstances, victims may not recognize the extent of their injuries right away. Our Jefferson City auto accident attorneys frequently consult clients who have suffered soft tissue injuries, which involve damage to parts of the body that are non-bony - usually muscles, ligaments, or tendons. Their most common incarnations are sprains, strains, and tears.
In the seconds just before a collision occurs, it's common for a driver to slam on the brakes and brace for impact. These are both instinctive reactions, but the resulting jolting can cause trauma to the body's soft tissues. Then, the impact of the accident itself causes additional jolting. All of this jarring can stretch soft tissues, resulting in pain, soreness, redness, and swelling (among other possible symptoms).
One very common soft tissue injury resulting from car crashes is whiplash, an injury to the neck, which occurs when the victim's head suddenly jerks backward and then forward. These extreme motions force the neck muscles and ligaments beyond their normal range of motion: the weight of the head exerts extensive pressure on the neck. All whiplash injuries are different: some people can recover in a short time, but others can develop chronic conditions that are extremely painful and disabling, including joint dysfunction, herniated discs of the spine, and chronic pain. Whiplash frequently occurs when one car is rear-ended by another, causing the occupants of the front car to experience a sudden impact that jerks the head back and forth.
Typically, those who have suffered a soft issue injury experience inflammation and pain, but these symptoms might not appear for several hours. In fact, for some accident victims, it takes days before they know how badly they're hurt.
If you've been in a car accident and have experienced pain, soreness, or stiffness, it's possible that you sustained a soft tissue injury. Although soft tissue injuries may seem minor, they can take longer to recover from than broken bones. What's more, if those injuries aren't properly treated, recovery time can take longer still, and further problems can arise down the road. The bottom line: following a collision, if you believe you have suffered a soft tissue injury, you should seek treatment immediately.