While not exceedingly common, some car accident victims sustain damage to their shoulder area that causes not only pain and discomfort, but can sometimes limit their ability to perform daily tasks and cause temporary or permanent disability.
It is essential have an ER doctor or family physician examine you following a car accident if you are experiencing any sort of shoulder pain or discomfort. Depending on your complaints, a doctor will likely order x-rays and other diagnostic testing to pinpoint your injury. Keep in mind that shoulder pain can also be indicative of a neck injury, so early diagnosis and treatment is important.
How can a car accident lead to a shoulder injury?
Shoulder injuries may occur in many ways during a car accident. Specifically, damage to the shoulder area can occur in the following situations.
- Neck injury: A neck injury can affect the shoulder because the muscle and nerves in the neck travel down the arm. If they sustain injury, the muscles and nerves in the shoulder can suffer damage, as well.
- Force: The impact of the accident itself can also damage the shoulder. While seatbelts protect you when another vehicle hits you, your body may still absorb the force of impact, especially if you tense up. Your shoulders, arms, neck, and back can all sustain injury from the force of the crash.
- Crushing: If your body slams into the steering wheel, the dashboard, or the door, your shoulder could shatter or the muscles, tendons, nerves, and bones of your shoulder could sustain serious damage.
- Whiplash: Lastly, whiplash, which is usually thought of as a neck injury, is common in car accidents and can also affect the shoulder. Much depends on the point of impact, the force with which the other vehicle hit your car, and where you were inside the car when hit. Whiplash may not cause you shoulder pain immediately, but over time, pain in your shoulders can develop.
Injuries in nearby parts of the body may exacerbate shoulder injuries leading to complications.
What are some possible shoulder injuries that arise from auto accidents?
The shoulder, among the largest joints in the body, has more mobility than any other joint and therefore, is very susceptible to injury. It is a ball and socket joint that comprises three bones: the scapula (shoulder blade), the clavicle (collarbone), and the humerus (arm bone).
Below are just some of the common types of shoulder injuries victims sustain in car accidents.
- AC Joint Separation – The AC joint is where the collarbone and the shoulder blade come together. A forceful impact can cause the two bones forming this joint to separate.
- Rotator Cuff Tear – The rotator cuff is the group of four tendons that provides stability to the shoulder. If an accident causes damage to any of these muscles or tendons, it can cause long-term issues including weakness, pain, and reduced functional capacity. With some rotator cuff injuries, the tendons actually separate from the bone, and may require surgery.
- Fractures and dislocations – Depending on how and where the other vehicle strikes you during a car accident, any of the bones that form the shoulder can be break or come out of their socket. Dislocations can be partial or complete, both of which can cause the sufferer pain and decreased range of motion. Clavicle fractures are very common in car accidents, too.
- Labrum tear – This is an injury to the fibrous tissue band (the labrum) that surrounds the upper arm bone socket, which stabilizes the joint between the arm and the shoulder. A direct blow to the shoulder, such as the impact of a car accident, can cause a labral tear. This can occur if your shoulder slams against a hard object inside the vehicle or you stretch out your arms in order to brace for an accident you see coming.
How do medical professionals treat shoulder injuries?
Your treatment recommendation will depend on the type, nature, and severity of your shoulder injury. Some of the common ways medical professionals treat shoulder injuries include the following.
- Physical therapy
- Injection therapy
- Shoulder exercises
- Pain and anti-inflammatory medications
Orthopedic surgeons may perform arthroscopic surgery to repair tears or partial tears of the ligaments and tendons that hold the shoulder joint together.
In what ways might a shoulder injury affect my life?
The limited mobility and pain that accompanies a shoulder injury affects many aspects of daily life. You may not realize just how much you use your shoulder until you cannot move it without intense pain. Daily things like brushing your hair and taking a shower become difficult, let alone managing your tasks at work. Moreover, once you have suffered a shoulder injury, it is much more susceptible to re-injury.
In addition to causing pain and stress and a reduced qualify of life, shoulder injuries can take a toll on you financially, too. Treatment for shoulder injuries is expensive, and it may take a long time to heal and even longer to regain total function. Medical bills combined with lost wages and possible long-term partial disability can devastate a family’s financial wellbeing.
This is why is a good idea to discuss your accident with a lawyer and find out what options you have for pursuing financial recovery. A lawyer will let you know if you qualify to file a car accident claim or lawsuit and help you seek full recovery for damages. This way, you can ensure that you will have the treatment and time off you need for your shoulder to heal properly.
Where do I find a lawyer to advise me on my car accident case?
If your accident occurred in Pennsylvania, call the car accident attorneys at Cordisco & Saile LLC for help. We can review your case, answer any questions you may have, and advise you of the best way to pursue a settlement for your shoulder injuries. Contact us today for a free consultation at 215-642-2335.