How to Describe Your Pain Accurately to a Doctor after a Car Accident

As a patient and victim of a car accident, you must provide your doctor with answers that are as accurate as possible.

If you’ve been in a car accident that caused you injuries, you will likely need to see doctors and sometimes undergo extensive investigations. Accident victims will likely file an insurance claim for compensation from the at-fault party. You will need hard evidence, like medical reports, test results, information from the accident scene, and so on, to support your claim. Ideally, your case will be based on objective, empirical evidence that the insurance company cannot deny or misinterpret.

st. louis woman talking to doctor after being in a car accident

Regarding our health problems, people react differently to an injury, starting from the pain threshold, which can vary significantly from one person to another. Unfortunately, many people often forget to include information relevant to their injury when describing it. This can lead to misdiagnosis and ineffective treatment.

When a doctor examines you, an interview is a big part of the consultation. The doctor will ask you specific questions, and your answers will be the basis of the diagnosis and future referrals. It’s clear that, as a patient, you are responsible for providing answers that are as accurate as possible.

One of the main symptoms of car accident injuries is pain. How should you describe your pain to the doctor for an accurate evaluation? Here are some questions your doctor might ask to get a precise picture of your pain.

  • Where Is Your Pain Located?
    Sometimes, pain can be dispersed in an area larger than the injury itself. In other cases, the location of your pain might not coincide with the injury spot. If you suffer from pain, start writing down a journal where you describe how you feel and how your condition evolves. If your pain is constant, you will likely need immediate medical attention. 
  • What Type of Pain Is It?
    Pain can feel different depending on the place and type of injury. Many words describe pain: dull, sharp, stabbing, burning, nauseating, crushing, etc. Even if you might not have the perfect words to describe your pain, try to do it as best as you can, providing details and using comparisons to make the doctor understand precisely how it feels.
    Don’t hesitate to use more colloquial words to describe your pain if they help you paint a clearer picture to the doctor.
  • What Makes the Pain Go Away? What Triggers It?
    It’s wise to journal your symptoms as soon as possible after the accident. It’s the best way to see how your symptoms evolve and what are the circumstances that trigger your symptoms. Please notice what makes you feel better, write down all the medication you take and how much of it, and let the doctor know how your treatment goes. This will help the doctor better understand the extent of your injuries and how they may have been caused by the auto accident. For example, if you were in a rear-end collision, mention any neck pain or stiffness you have experienced since the accident. If you were hit from the side, you should discuss any pain or tenderness in your ribs or abdomen. Don’t hold back – mention even the tiny details, such as migraines or lingering slight pain.

Give a Clear and Concise Account of the Accident

It would be best to generally describe to your doctor the impact force and how your body hit the car. For example, if you struck your head on the steering wheel, you must let the doctor know.

Your doctor will also want to know if there was a sudden impact or if your injuries resulted from cumulative damage. Giving a clear picture of the accident will help the doctor better understand your injuries and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

Previous Injuries or Health Conditions

Accident victims are often tempted to downplay their previous injuries or health problems, thinking it’ll make their current injuries seem less severe. However, this is a huge mistake. Your doctor must thoroughly understand your medical history to provide the best care. Additionally, failing to disclose pre-existing injuries can complicate any potential insurance claims.

Your doctor will also want to know whether you have tried self-care measures such as over-the-counter medications or ice packs. Be honest and let the doctor know how your self-care measures have helped (or not helped) your symptoms.

Ultimately, being forthcoming with your doctor will help ensure you receive the best care for your car accident injuries.

Finally, don’t hesitate to ask questions. If there’s something you’re unsure about or don’t understand, don’t be afraid to speak up. The more information you have, the better you’ll be at making informed decisions about your care.