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Don't ignore delayed pain after a car accident

Car accidents create a lot of anxiety -- and a lot of adrenaline -- in victims. That's why it isn't actually unusual for someone who has been through a car accident to overlook an injury.

So, what should you do if you start feeling pain several hours (or even days) after a wreck? Get to a doctor for an evaluation. Your health is your first priority.

What pains can signal a hidden injury well after the accident is over? The most common delayed pains include:

1. Nausea and abdominal pain

Sometimes seat belt injuries to internal organs go undetected for several days. Nausea, bruises and a growing sense of discomfort in your abdomen can indicate internal bleeding.

2. Headaches

A chronic headache is never normal -- even if it seems mild. Any persistent headache is cause for concern because it may signal a brain injury. The sudden,

Keep in mind that there's no such thing as a "mild" concussion. Doctors have learned that all brain injuries can have lifelong repercussions.

3. Neck pain

Neck pain is sometimes an indicator of whiplash -- a soft-tissue injury caused by the force of your head moving forward when the car suddenly stopped. It can also be the sign of a slipped disc in your neck.

4. Hand pain or numbness

A gradual numbness and chronic pain in your hands can indicate a brachial plexus injury. That's a nerve bundle that runs from your neck all the way to your fingers. If that nerve bundle gets pinched, you can lose the strength and dexterity in your hand.

5. Lower back pain

This could indicate everything from a soft-tissue injury to something more serious, like a herniated disc in your spine. Be particularly concerned if the pain is accompanied by numbness in your feet. That can indicate a pinched nerve somewhere in your spine and damage to your sciatic nerve.

Don't be timid about telling the doctor you see that you were recently in a car accident. That can give the doctor an important clue about the source of your problems. Also, make certain that you don't agree to any settlements from the other driver's insurance company until you're sure whether or not you need to file a personal injury claim related to your injuries.

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