Bruising is one of the most common injuries resulting from a car accident. Even minor car crashes can lead to painful bruises on your body from the impact and restraints. While bruises may seem harmless, they can indicate more serious underlying injuries. This article will provide an in-depth look at car accident bruises, including the symptoms, how to treat them, and tips for recovering from bruising after an auto collision.
What Causes Bruising After a Car Accident?
During a car crash, your body is thrust against the interior of the vehicle. This causes trauma to soft tissues, capillaries, and small blood vessels under your skin. When these blood vessels rupture, blood leaks into the surrounding tissues, leading to bruising. Here are some common causes of bruises after a car accident:
Hitting Interior Parts of the Vehicle
Your body collides with parts of the interior like the steering wheel, dashboard, windows, doors, and seats. This blunt-force trauma can burst capillaries and cause immediate bruising.
Contact with Airbags
Airbags deploying at high speeds also commonly lead to bruising. While airbags protect us from more serious injuries, they slam into the body forcefully enough to damage soft tissues.
Friction with Seat Belts
Seat belts, while extremely important for safety, can rub forcefully against the skin during a crash. This friction can lead to belt-shaped bruises across the torso, ribs, and hips.
Being Thrown Around Inside the Vehicle
The violent motions of the crash can throw you around forcefully inside the car. Your limps flailing about and impacting interior surfaces can lead to ugly bruises.
Common Locations for Bruising
Bruises can occur anywhere on your body after a car crash. Here are some of the most common locations:
Chest and Torso
The chest and torso often hit the steering wheel or dashboard, causing extensive bruising. Bruises may also form across the rib cage from the seat belt.
Head and Face
It’s common to get bruises on your face and head from hitting the wheel, window, or windshield. Black eyes are also common if your face hits interior parts.
Shoulders and Upper Arms
Your upper arms and shoulders can smash into the door or window during impact. The seat belt can also cause friction bruises across the shoulder and collar bones.
Hips and Legs
The lower body can get thrown around violently in a crash, leading to deep bruises on the hips, thighs, and knees from contacting interior components.
Symptoms Associated with Car Accident Bruising
Bruises after a car accident may exhibit the following symptoms:
One of the primary symptoms is discolored skin at the site of impact. Bruises often appear reddish when first forming, then turn blue, purple, or even black as they develop. The skin remains discolored until the bruise heals.
Pain and Tenderness
Car accident bruises are often painful to the touch. You may experience throbbing, tenderness, and soreness at the bruised area. Even small bumps or pressure on the bruise can cause severe pain.
The injured blood vessels leak fluid into the surrounding tissues, causing swelling around the bruise. Bruises may bulge slightly under the skin depending on the severity.
Stiffness and Loss of Function
Large bruises can make it difficult to move the affected body part. You may experience reduced range of motion, stiffness, and loss of function around the bruised area.
Changes Over Time
Bruises tend to look worse before getting better. As your body reabsorbs the leaked blood, the bruise changes color and slowly fades over days to weeks.
Seeking Medical Evaluation
While bruises may seem harmless, it’s important to get them evaluated by a doctor after an accident. Even if the bruise looks minor on the surface, there could be serious underlying injuries. Some things your doctor checks for include:
- Internal bleeding – Bruising can indicate bleeding beneath the skin that could require surgery.
- Fractures – The impact may have caused hairline fractures in your bones beneath the bruise.
- Organ damage – Bruising around the torso, abdomen or chest may signal trauma to underlying organs.
- Concussion – Facial bruising along with headache, nausea or mental confusion may indicate a concussion.
Don’t try to downplay or ignore car accident bruising. Getting prompt medical care can diagnose significant issues and prevent permanent damage. Your doctor may order imaging tests like x-rays, CT scans, or MRIs to check for internal injuries if the bruising seems severe.
Treating Car Accident Bruises
Here are some typical treatments doctors recommend for bruising after a car crash:
RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation
The RICE method is effective for reducing swelling and pain from bruises. Rest the injured area, apply ice packs for 15 minutes several times per day, lightly compress the area with an elastic bandage, and keep the bruise elevated above heart level whenever possible.
Over-the-counter meds like acetaminophen, ibuprofen and naproxen can relieve soreness and pain from bruising. Your doctor may prescribe stronger prescription painkillers for more severe bruising.
Avoid activities that put pressure on the bruised area. Modify your movements and posture to protect the injury while it heals. Your doctor can suggest appropriate modifications.
Gentle massage around the bruise can help improve blood flow and speed up reabsorption of leaked blood. Avoid massaging directly on the bruised skin which could cause further damage.
Some supplements like bromelain, arnica, vitamin C and bioflavonoids may help reduce bruising and swelling after an injury. Ask your doctor before taking new supplements.
Tips for Recovering from Car Accident Bruising
Here are some tips to help you recover from bruising after a car crash:
Get Plenty of Rest
Your body needs extra rest to heal bruised tissues. Get at least 8-10 hours of sleep per night and take naps during the day if needed. Proper rest speeds up recovery.
Drinking extra fluids keeps your blood vessels healthy and prevents blood clots. Aim for the recommended 8-10 glasses of water per day to support healing.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Eat a balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits and lean protein to provide essential nutrients that promote bruise recovery. Avoid excess salt which can encourage fluid retention.
Stick to Recommended Activities
Follow your doctor’s advice on avoiding activities that strain the bruised area. Don’t try to push yourself too soon, as it may prolong healing.
Apply Cold Therapy
Use ice packs and cold compresses over the first 48 hours to reduce swelling and tenderness. Apply cold therapy several times per day for 10-15 minutes.
Watch for Complications
Monitor your bruises and watch for signs of infection like worsening pain, redness, heat, drainage or fever. Call your doctor right away if complications develop.
Attend All Follow-Up Appointments
Follow through with all recommended medical appointments to monitor your healing and watch for underlying issues. Your doctor needs to re-evaluate bruises over time.
Consulting a Personal Injury Attorney
If your car accident bruising resulted from another driver’s negligence, it’s recommended to consult an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney can help you seek compensation for medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages through an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. They deal with insurance companies so you can focus on healing.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long do car accident bruises last?
Most minor bruises heal fully within 2-3 weeks. More severe bruising can take 4 weeks or longer to completely resolve. The extent of tissue injury impacts how long bruises persist.
When should I worry about bruising after an accident?
See a doctor promptly for medical evaluation of any bruising. Warning signs to watch for include shortness of breath, chest pain, numbness, loss of consciousness, or uncontrolled bleeding which require emergency treatment.
Should I photograph my bruises for evidence?
Yes, photograph any visible bruising from all angles soon after your accident for documentation. Detailed bruise photos help support injury claims. Bruises fade quickly, so capturing images right away preserves important evidence.
Can I still have serious injuries without major bruising?
Yes, it’s possible to have serious internal injuries with minimal external bruising. You may have unnoticed fractures, organ damage or internal bleeding despite no serious surface bruising. Always get checked out.
How can I minimize scarring from bruises?
To reduce the chance of permanent scarring, keep the area well moisturized as it heals and massage around (not directly on) the bruise to improve blood flow. Avoid picking scabs which can lead to scarring. Use sun protection on bruised areas.
Bruises are common, painful injuries resulting from the impacts of a car accident. Any bruising warrants medical evaluation, as it may indicate serious underlying trauma. With proper treatment, most bruises heal fully within a few weeks. Protecting the injured area, sticking to doctor recommendations, and following self-care tips will support the best outcome. Speak to an attorney about pursuing compensation for accident injuries like bruising caused by a negligent driver. With proper care and legal support, you can recover from car accident bruising and get your life back on track.