Car Laws & Safety

How Long Do You Stay Sore After An Accident?

The most popular mode of transportation is to drive. But, there are roughly 6 million car accidents a year. Over 4 million of these accidents result in injury requiring medical treatment. 

With the odds clearly not in our favor, it is essential to understand how our bodies work after an accident. There are multiple factors to how long you might feel pain, stiffness, or soreness.

Even if you were lucky enough to head home directly after the accident, you might be surprised at how sore you feel the following day. This is normal, but it is always advised to speak to your doctor after an accident. 

After an accident, you could feel sore for anywhere from three days to sixteen weeks. However, if the accident was considered minor (you did not go to the hospital), stiffness and soreness should subside within six weeks. 

More severe accidents at higher speeds or without airbags could result in soreness or stiffness for up to sixteen weeks. If pain remains after six weeks, it is advised to see a doctor and discuss symptoms.

Typically after an accident, first responders are on the scene. These responders determine if it appears that you need to head straight to the hospital or not. Always remember that you should follow up with your doctor within a few days of an accident, no matter how small or big it was. 

However, if the first responders deemed you fit to go home, you most likely did not suffer long-lasting injuries. Therefore you should feel better within the six to eight-week window. However, you are your own best advocate. If you notice sharp pains or worsening aches, you should see your doctor as soon as possible. 

If you are sent to the hospital for special scans, it may be an indicator that you have more severe bruising or even broken bones or sprains. In this case, you may feel sore for eight to sixteen weeks while your body is healing.

Time Of Soreness by Injury

The type of injury you sustain can determine how long you feel sore for. Unfortunately, many kinds of injuries can happen in minor accidents that can still leave you feeling sore for a long time.

Whiplash

One of the most common injuries after an accident is whiplash. This is soreness or stiffness felt in your neck and shoulder area. There are different levels of whiplash; some considered milder can resolve in a few days, while the more severe injuries can last for a few weeks. These pains should subside within six weeks. 

Muscle Soreness

When you are in an accident, your body protects itself by tensing up the muscles in your body, preparing for the impact. This strenuous activity can cause sore muscles. Muscle soreness can last for a few weeks, but there should be a drastic improvement in pain level after a few days. If these pains become sharp, you should call your doctor. 

Bruising and Abrasions 

The most noticeable bruising in an accident is from the seat belt or from the airbag deployment. These bruises are seen around the chest and neck area or on the face.

You may also notice other bruising depending on where your vehicle was hit and other factors, such as abrasions due to broken glass. Bruising can last for up to six weeks, but there should be a significant color improvement at this time.

Sprains and Strains 

A sprain is an injury to your tendon connected to your joint bones. These can be long-lasting injuries and can be why you may feel sore for more extended periods after an accident.

Tendons can take up to eight weeks to heal from mild injury, while more substantial damage could require surgery. 

More severe injuries may last a lot longer. Always refer back to your doctor’s diagnosis and return if pain continues. 

Home Remedies for Car Accident Soreness 

Drink lots of water

Staying hydrated helps your body heal faster. Water is one of the key things our body needs when healing. It allows your body to move nutrients and oxygen around the body. Without water, you may feel sore for days longer than necessary. 

Yoga and stretching

When your body is in an accident, your muscles tighten up as a natural response to impact. This can leave knots in your body. Accidents can also leave emotional trauma in your system.

Yoga allows you to apply gentle pressure to your muscles, stretching them out and relieving tension both physically and emotionally from your body. Always stop stretching if it causes pain. And seek a doctor’s opinion if the pain persists. 

Rest

When your body is in rest mode or sleeping, it signals your body to repair and rejuvenate your muscles. This is one of the reasons your muscles may hurt more the morning after a hard workout because your muscles did not repair themselves until you were sleeping. Then, as you wake up, you have fresh, new muscle waiting to be stretched out. 

This is the same after an injury or accident. Your muscles will need time to repair themselves after even a minor accident. The more serious the damage, the longer it may take to repair. But, if you feel fatigued or cannot seem to stay away for longer than a few hours, speak to your doctor. 

Essential oils

Essential oils can be used to help ease sore or stiff muscles after an injury or accident as well. These therapeutic oils can help reduce swelling, alleviate tension, and even reduce muscle spasms.

Simply message them into your sore muscles and relax as they take effect. You can also pair these oils with massages to get the most benefit. The most beneficial oils for pain, swelling, and tensions include 

  • Eucalyptus 
  • Frankincense
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Helichrysum
  • Marjoram

Cuts, Swollen Abrasions, or Broken Bone. 

If you head home after your accident but are sporting a swollen lump or bandaged cut, remember the acronym RICE. That is to Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate.

These steps can keep your pain levels down while you are healing after your accident. These injuries should subside within six to eight weeks, but the RICE method may not be needed for longer than a few days.

If you sustain more severe injuries like broken bones, ice and elevation can be very helpful. Also, remember the benefits of staying hydrated and resting. If you are dealing with these types of injuries, it can take several months and physical therapy to feel back to normal. 

Steps You Can Take to Feel Better

Physical therapy

Physical therapy is an excellent option for most people after an accident. Even if there are only minor injuries, the muscles in our body take time to relax and heal after the trauma of an accident.

Physical therapy helps you stretch and work out the areas of your body that have been most affected by your accident. Physical Therapy can last anywhere from four to sixteen weeks, depending on the level of trauma to your system. 

Massage Therapy

While some may be happy to massage their muscles at home, others may opt for a professional to take on their sore muscles. Many massage therapists can also work with essential oils so you can elevate the experience.

Make sure you communicate with your therapist and let them know if you experience sharp pains. And speak to your doctor if these pains persist.  

Chiropractic Therapy

Another option you can take to reduce soreness after your car accident is to try chiropractic therapy. These therapists relieve body tension through cracking or popping joints to relieve built-up pressure. 

Can you have delayed pain after an injury?

After an accident, the body deals with lots of stress, hormones, and adrenaline coursing through the body. While it may seem like you have miraculously come out of your accident unscathed, it is possible that you simply are not registering your pain.

Some may be skeptical about delayed pain, but many people deal with it if they have the chance to walk away from a car accident. 

This is one of the reasons you may find yourself very stiff and sore the morning after your accident. You may notice your back stiff, your head throbbing, or your arms and legs feeling heavier than usual. Try to work your muscles out or use hot water to loosen up, but do not overdo it. See a doctor if it seems like more than just sore muscles. 

Typical Delayed Pains after an Accident

  1. Headache
  2. Neck or shoulder pain
  3. Numbness
  4. Back pain
  5. Abdominal pain
  6. Changes in thinking or personality
  7. Difficulty with movement and coordination
  8. Flashbacks and or nightmares

Sleeping After an Accident

Sleeping after an accident is most often a normal response. Your body is dealing with both physical and emotional or psychological trauma. You may feel tired due to your body adjusting to emotional shifts, the aftermath of shock, and the aftershock of adrenaline and stress hormones coursing through your body. 

If you were injured, even only slightly, your body is also dealing with healing you physically while also resetting the brain’s chemistry.

So, even if you can go home and sleep it off on your couch, you will feel tired for a few days, as your body is healing bruises and scrapes and calming the mind. So, one thing you can try is meditating to help your neurological systems to reset. 

Emotions you can feel after an accident

A typical response to an accident is to cycle through strong emotions very quickly. While your body is processing these emotions, you may feel more tired and even depressed until you can sort through your feelings and recharge. 

Emotions people feel after an accident

  • Shock
  • Denial
  • Disbelief
  • Anger
  • Guilt
  • Anxiety
  • Fear 
  • Sadness

Shock Symptoms

All emotions can cause fatigue if not correctly and effectively handled. However, shock is an emotion that is also very draining to the system. This emotion can leave its mark for days after the accident. It can often mask other symptoms of physical injury. The symptoms of shock include:  

  • Cool, clammy ashen skin
  • Rapid pulse
  • Difficulty or rapid breathing
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Feelings of agitation or restlessness

Adrenaline and Stress Hormones 

Even if not physically hurt, your body releases 2 major stress hormones in a traumatic event. Norepinephrine and cortisol get your body ready to act. Adrenaline is also released during an accident. After the danger is removed from your system, the body feels drained, needing to recharge. 

Talk to Your Doctor

If you have been in an accident, it is best to speak to a trained professional about your symptoms. If you feel sharp or worsening pain, you should talk to your doctor.

While pain after an accident can last as long as a few weeks, your pain should start to reduce within only a few weeks. Worsening pain can be a sign that there is a more severe injury. 

Welcome to my car seat blog! As a mom of 3, I put together with other hard-working moms a highly informative one-stop car seat resource, full with many reviews and buyer guides. I hope you find it invaluable. Thank you for trusting me & my team! - Keren