Although car accidents are unpleasant to think about, they are a part of daily life, which makes it important to know what injuries to look out for following a collision. The World Health Organization estimates as many as 50 million people worldwide suffer injuries in car accidents every year. Every car crash is different, as are the injuries you and others sustain in these accidents. Shoulder Pain After a Car Accident is a common type of injury that can occur following a traffic collision. These injuries can range from bruises and soft tissue injuries to shoulder joint fractures.
The Shoulder Joint and How It Works
The shoulder is a surprisingly complicated part of human anatomy. It consists of not one joint but two. The first is called the acromioclavicular joint, and it is where the acromion, scapula, and clavicle all meet together.
The second joint in the shoulder is called the glenohumeral joint. This joint is a ball-and-socket type joint where the head of the humerus bone fits inside the socket of the glenoid. Muscles, tendons, and ligaments bind all these bones together and allow the arm to move.
In a car crash, any of these shoulder parts, including bones, muscles, and ligaments, can suffer injury.
What Does Shoulder Pain After a Car Accident Mean?
If you are experiencing shoulder pain after a car accident, the apparent reason is that the crash’s forces caused some trauma to parts of the shoulder. You may be experiencing any of the following:
- Dull or sharp aches
- Throbbing pain
- Warm and tender skin to the touch
- The pronounced weakness in the arm
- Inability to raise your arm, either with or without pain
- Other restrictions on your range of motion
Shoulder pain after a car accident could resolve independently with rest and over-the-counter pain medications. In other cases, you may need surgery to repair the joint, recover the range of motion, and alleviate pain.
Types of Shoulder Injuries
Without a professional medical diagnosis, you may not know the nature of your shoulder injury. You may not be able to tell how bad your injuries are on your own because many shoulder conditions have similar symptoms. Some possible injuries of the shoulder that you might have suffered include:
Shoulder Sprain and Strain
Sprains occur when a ligament (the tissue connecting two bones at a joint) is stretched or torn. A strain is a torn or stretched muscle or tendon. Both injuries can occur from a twisting of the affected area or blunt force trauma to the shoulder. Seat belts can cause a twisting injury in a crash if your shoulder becomes entangled with the belt.
Most strains and sprains will resolve on their own with time and rest. While they heal, you may experience pain near the sprain or strain. Your range of motion may also be less than usual.
Another cause of shoulder pain after a car accident is a dislocated shoulder. This injury occurs when the ball of the top of the humerus bone pops out of the socket. Shoulder dislocations can be described as partial or full dislocations, depending on whether the ball is partially or entirely out of the socket.
Symptoms of shoulder dislocation include severe pain, swelling of the shoulder and upper arm, and difficulty moving the affected arm. You may also experience numbness in your hand, arm, or neck.
Doctors treat dislocations by moving the dislocated ball back into the socket, followed by resting the shoulder while it heals. You may need to complete a course of rehabilitative therapy to regain full use of the shoulder.
A fracture is a broken bone, whereas a compound fracture is when the broken bone breaks through the skin. Either one of these fractures can be an intensely painful event. Aside from the pain, you may also see the break either underneath the skin or emerging through the skin.
Your doctor typically confirms a broken bone in your shoulder with an X-ray. You will likely then have to wear a cast while your bones heal and set. If the break is especially severe, you may need to have pins, plates, or other hardware installed to ensure your shoulder heals properly.
Do You Need to See a Doctor for Shoulder Pain After a Car Accident?
Whether you need to see a doctor or visit a hospital following a car accident will depend on the circumstances of your crash and how much pain you are feeling in your shoulder. In the case of a minor fender bender with only some slight discomfort in your shoulder, you may be able to forgo immediate medical treatment.
If any of the following signs or symptoms accompany the pain or discomfort, it is a good indication that your injury is more severe than a sprain or strain. In this case, you should obtain medical care as soon as possible:
- Inability to move your arm or raise your arm to your shoulder’s height
- An obvious broken bone
- Intense pain
- Pain accompanied by nausea or vomiting
- Numbness, a tingling feeling, or loss of sensation in your hands or fingers
When you are unsure how severe your shoulder injury might be, it is always advisable to get a medical opinion from a doctor’s office or hospital emergency room as soon as possible.
Contact The Joel Bieber Firm for Assistance with Your Legal Claim
If you or a loved one suffered a shoulder injury in a car crash, and another person caused that wreck, you may be able to recover compensation through a car crash lawsuit.
At The Joel Bieber Firm, we offer potential clients the opportunity to consult with our car accident recovery team free of charge. Schedule your initial, complimentary case evaluation by calling our office today.