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When Adrenaline Hurts

Adrenaline is a naturally occurring endorphin. It’s our body’s own pain medicine. It allows us to get to safety after being injured because it kills pain, for a short while.

The problem with adrenaline and car crashes is that after the shock of a crash we experience an adrenaline rush. And we don’t always get the pain signals right away.

Our body’s own opiate

Endorphins are like opiates, similar in fact to morphine, because endorphins tend to mask pain. There are at least 20 different types of endorphins in our bodies. 

Emergency room doctor Richard O’Brien is also a spokesperson for the American College of Emergency Physicians. He states that because endorphins mask pain. " (Adrenaline) also gives you a runner's high kind of feeling, which is why I've seen people who don't notice the pain or injury until they calm down," O’Brien said.

If we are involved in a car crash, typically adrenaline (an endorphin) rushes through our body. We will have an elevated level of adrenaline until our brain settles a bit and recovers from the stress of the accident.

This is why we might say we feel okay even after a nasty crash. We actually think we are okay. But then a day or two or even a week later once we get over the shock of the crash and our adrenalin level lowers to normal, we can feel the pain.

Five self care musts

  • First, no matter how minor the accident seems, go to a doctor. Head trauma in particular is often missed in initial evaluations so make sure you see a doctor who understands car accidents and can accurately evaluate head and neck trauma. Dizziness, confusion, fatigue and nausea are often overlooked but can indicate head and neck trauma.
  • Second, go right away. Do not put off seeing a doctor as soon as you can. The longer you wait the more difficult it is to prove that the car crash caused your headache, whiplash, ruptured disc or other injury.
  • Tell the doctor and attending staff that you were in a car crash. Make sure the doctor notes this in your chart. Make sure to have your head, neck and spine examined.
  • Take pictures of your injury with your phone camera. You may want to bring a friend or relative with your to see the doctor so that he or she can take notes.
  • Keep careful track of all medical expenses and treatment.  Put your receipts and records of payment and appointments together in a file.  These are very important.

Insurance companies are not motivated to help

You should ALWAYS speak with a personal injury attorney if you are injured in a car accident. Insurance companies are not concerned about getting you the best care. The insurance company’s goal is to pay less and make higher profits. It is not uncommon for these companies to downplay your injuries and your need for care. Protect yourself after an accident. Work with an established personal injury professional.


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