When to Visit a Doctor After a Car Accident

When to Visit a Doctor After a Car Accident

Many people walk away from a car accident feeling fine. Or they may have a few minor aches or stiffness. In both cases, they may not visit a doctor, believing it’s not needed. Is that the right decision? Read on to find out.

The injuries sustained after a serious car accident leave no doubt you need immediate medical attention. But many people walk away from an accident with little to no pain and wonder if they should see a doctor.

If you have any questions about what to do after a car accident, call the team at Alliance Spine Associates. Meanwhile, keep reading to learn when to visit a doctor and why.

When to visit a doctor after a car accident

Making a decision about when to see a doctor is simple. Why? Because you should always visit a doctor after a car accident and you should do it as soon as possible.

Even if you feel fine or only have a few minor aches, you need to have a thorough examination. It may be safe to schedule an appointment for the next day (depending on the severity of your injuries), but you should always set aside the time for a medical evaluation.

Here are the top three reasons you should never wait to see a doctor:

Reason 1: Symptoms can be delayed 

You can’t depend on your immediate symptoms to tip you off to an injury. Three of the most common injuries sustained during car accidents can have delayed symptoms that don’t appear for days or weeks:


Whiplash injuries occur when the impact forces your neck into a rapid back-and-forth movement. The sudden movement forces the spine beyond its normal range of motion, potentially damaging the neck’s muscles, ligaments, discs, nerves, and vertebrae.

The typical whiplash symptoms, such as neck pain, headaches, and tingling sensations, may not appear for several days. While you wait for symptoms, you’re at risk of further aggravating the injured tissues.

 If you schedule an appointment right away, we can find injuries before symptoms arise. Then we can begin early treatment that helps you recover faster and prevents potential complications. 

Back pain

Much like a whiplash, the accident’s impact can cause extreme movement and pressure on your spine, damaging any of the bones and soft tissues. There are two reasons you can have a back injury and not feel the pain for hours or days. 

First, the trauma triggers the release of endorphins and adrenaline, biochemicals that reduce your pain. And second, it takes time for inflammation and muscle stiffness to reach levels that cause back pain.


If your car accident is severe enough to cause a moderate to severe traumatic brain injury, you will have immediate and obvious symptoms. However, the dizziness, confusion, memory loss, and headaches caused by a concussion (a mild traumatic brain injury) may not appear for days or in some cases, weeks.

With or without symptoms, a mild concussion damages the nerves and affects brain function. Without an immediate evaluation, you may go back to your usual activities, and that’s the worst thing you can do because your brain needs to rest.

After one concussion, your brain is highly susceptible to a second concussion, even from a mild head bump. A second concussion often causes more severe and possibly permanent brain damage.

Reason 2: Early treatment helps prevent chronic pain

Many people ignore mild to moderate symptoms, assuming their pain will improve on its own. But without treatment, your injuries can lead to chronic back and neck pain and spinal degeneration. Also, the longer you wait to seek treatment for injured nerves, the more likely they are to become permanently damaged. 

Reason 3: Prepare for legal claims

If there’s a chance you want to file a legal claim, you need an immediate medical evaluation. If you wait too long to see the doctor, you open the door to insurance companies saying your injuries may not be connected to the car accident.

To get a thorough exam and medical care following a car accident, call Alliance Spine Associates or book online today.