Car accidents are unpredictable. Not only do they take you by surprise, but they affect everyone differently, both physically and mentally. While an accident may cause one person to lay on the couch in pain for a week, another person in the same car may walk away from the accident with no pain at all.
Unfortunately, motor vehicle accidents happen quite frequently in New York. According to the New York State Department of Health, on average, 136,913 emergency room visits take place every year related to motor vehicle accidents.
If you were in an accident, you’re likely focused on when things will get back to normal, or more specifically, “How long should I be sore?” The answer to this question will depend on both you as an individual and the circumstances of the accident.
Understanding Different Types of Pain
As humans, we have a natural tendency to lump together any sort of pain. “Sore” may mean different things to different people, but it’s important to differentiate different types of pain, as each can mean a very different thing.
Common examples include:
- Aching pain: An aching pain is typically localized to one general area. The root cause is often a strained muscle or ligament. This type of pain responds well to anti-inflammatory medication and usually goes away in a few days.
- Radiating pain: Radiating pain starts in one location and spreads to another. Often, back and neck injuries can cause pain to radiate down an individual’s arms and legs.
- Stabbing pain: Stabbing pain is intense and sudden. It may go away immediately or linger. If you experience stabbing pain anywhere, but especially in your back, go to the doctor right away. It is not unusual for symptoms of a spinal cord injury to appear several days after an accident.
Pay attention to what type of pain you are experiencing and note any changes. Even if you are not experiencing any pain, it’s still a good idea to go to the doctor after an accident to make sure there are no hidden injuries.
How Long Should You Feel Sore?
It’d be nice if there was a simple, straightforward answer to this question. Unfortunately, many things will affect duration during which you will feel sore, most notably the type of accident you are in and the injuries you sustain.
Other factors that may affect how long you feel sore include:
- Your age: Unfortunately, your age is something that you have to consider after an accident. Younger people often bounce back quicker and often experience less pain after an accident than do older individuals. If you are older, it may take your body longer to heal.
- Safety devices: Were you wearing your seatbelt? Did the airbag go off? Seatbelts can reduce the risk of moderate to critical injuries by up to 50 percent. If you are not wearing your seatbelt, the force of the collision can throw your body against the interior of the vehicle and increase your level of pain. Airbags, on the other hand, may cause unexpected chest soreness if they go off during an accident.
- Stress: Doctors agree that there is a direct link between stress and pain. Reducing stress can reduce your level of pain and vice versa. The days after an accident are often stressful, but it’s important to remain calm and focus on your recovery. A car accident attorney can take care of the legal aspects of your claim so that you can focus on getting better.
- Pre-existing conditions: When an accident aggravates a pre-existing injury, it can take longer to heal. Be sure to mention any previous injuries to your doctor as it may change the type of care you need.
After an accident, it’s important to establish a relationship with your care team. Your doctor can give you a better understanding of how long you should expect to feel sore. If you don’t feel like you are getting better or feel like your pain is worse, contact a healthcare professional.
Other Factors to Consider
How you feel depends on the severity of your injuries, but how you respond to an accident can also affect how you feel. After an accident, it’s important to put your health first. Pushing yourself will likely only make things worse.
If you feel sore longer than expected, consider:
- Are you following your doctor’s advice? As humans, we have a natural tendency to think we know better than everyone else. But after an auto accident, it’s important to listen to the advice of your doctor. This means taking your medicine as prescribed, attending follow-up appointments, and taking it easy.
- Did you return to work too soon? It can be difficult to take time off work, especially if you don’t have any vacation time or savings. But you need to listen to your body (and your doctor). If you are in pain, pushing yourself at work can make your injuries worse and prolong your pain. A car accident claim can help you recover lost wages. Take care of yourself.
- Is there something else going on? Pay attention to your pain. Sometimes, new injuries pop up days after the accident. However, sometimes we don’t notice symptoms as “new,” and instead right them off as the same injury. If you are experiencing new pain, tell your doctor. You may need additional treatment.
Know Your Rights After an Accident
Many things will affect how long you are sore. Some of these things are out of your control, but there are factors that you can control. After an accident, the law allows you to file a car accident claim against the at-fault party. This can help you pay for the medical care you need and reduce stress about the unknown.
Obviously, money won’t take away your pain, but it can allow you to breathe a little easier. Now, more than ever, it’s important to take care of yourself. If you were in a recent accident and have questions about what comes next, contact an experienced car accident attorney.