You were in a significant traffic collision, but you were fortunate enough to be able to walk away relatively unscathed. You felt like you were okay, so you decided not to go to the hospital. You wanted to get on with your day, so you simply waited as the police took care of their records and then went on to work.
You did fine most of the day, but as things moved forward, you started to notice a little swelling in your leg. By the time you were ready to go home, it had started to become painful. You drove yourself to the hospital and told them that you’d been in an accident.
You were given an X-ray for your leg and knee at the hospital, but nothing turned up that would cause this much pain. A doctor working on your case suggested getting an MRI, and once you did, it was clear that there were significant areas of damage to your ligaments around the kneecap and the cartilage in your knee. You were fortunate that walking on your leg all day hadn’t made things worse, but you’ll have to go through physical therapy at the very least.
This is one time where the delayed onset of an injury could have turned out worse than it did. After a collision, it’s normal not to feel all of the injuries you suffered or not to believe they are as bad as they appear. Pain is often delayed, and swelling may not occur immediately. Your body is designed to keep you agile and aware, so pain and symptoms of injury are sometimes hidden for several hours (and more rarely, days).
What should you do if you said you were okay at the scene but now need medical care?
The good news for you is that delayed-onset injuries are totally normal, so you may not even be questioned about why you’re suddenly going to the hospital when you walked away at the scene. Make sure you talk to the doctor and let them know that you were involved in a crash, so that they take steps to identify any potential injuries that would have been caused by the jarring or impact to your body.
It’s usually advised that everyone goes to the hospital after a crash, even if they feel fine. Delayed onset injuries are part of the reason why it’s smart to go in, even if you feel well.