Common Causes of Shoulder Pain After a Car Accident
Sometimes post-car-accident shoulder pain is due to minor, temporary inflammation or bruising. Other times, it’s related to serious injuries in the shoulder joint, shoulder blade, or even the upper arm bone.
Common causes of shoulder pain after a car accident include:
Whiplash is a whipping, back-and-forth motion of the neck that often happens when a vehicle is hit from the front or rear. This causes issues for the head, neck, and back, and the shoulders are also likely to be affected. Muscle strains and tears often means whiplash pain radiates into the shoulders.
Rotator Cuff Tear
A torn rotator cuff is a tear in the grouping of four muscles that attach the arm bone (humerus) to the shoulder blade. Not only will this cause shoulder pain, but you might experience weakness or a cracking sensation when moving your arm. A torn rotator cuff could ultimately require shoulder surgery.
The main bones that cause shoulder pain after a car accident are the clavicle (collar bone) and humerus (arm bone). Fractured clavicles are especially common, but both kinds of bones are vulnerable in a car crash because of their closeness to the steering wheel, dashboard, and window. An incredibly blunt force could even cause a fracture in your scapula (shoulder blade).
If a car accident forces the body to twist with the arm in a particular position, the arm might also twist and come out of the shoulder joint. This can certainly cause shoulder pain, but you could also lose shoulder mobility and feel like your arm is “dead” or separated from your body. Proper medical treatment is vital to preventing muscle damage and other serious conditions.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue injuries are incredibly common after a car accident. Soft tissues include muscles, ligaments, tendons, blood vessels, and nerves that surround organs and bones and hold them in place. The shoulder is full of soft tissues that give it strength and mobility. When these are bruised, sprained, or strained, it can cause shoulder pain, weakness, swelling, and loss of movement.
Symptoms of Car Accident Shoulder Injuries
Symptoms of a shoulder injury can range from minor discomfort to major pain and loss of function. If you’re experiencing shoulder pain after a car accident, watch for the following symptoms and report them to your doctor:
- Shooting Pain
- Burning sensations
- Reduced range of motion
When you seek medical attention for shoulder pain, your doctor may order diagnostic imaging, such as an x-ray, to get a proper look at the bones and soft tissues. Medications can include steroids to reduce pain and inflammation. (Ice can help as well.) Physical therapy and chiropractic treatment can reduce pressure on the shoulder and help it heal.
Experienced car accident attorneys are familiar with shoulder injuries and pain after a car accident. They’ll know how to present the cause of your injured shoulder to the insurance company and give you a better chance at fair compensation for your personal injury claim.
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