Did you sustain a shoulder injury from a car accident? Are you experiencing shoulder pain after a slip and fall? Read on to find out more about common shoulder injuries and arm injuries from car accidents.
Shoulder Injured After an Accident? Shoulder Pain from a Seatbelt? – Filing a Claim After Sustaining a Shoulder Injury
In this article, we will provide important information regarding the process of filing a claim due to a shoulder injury after an accident, and will go through common types of injuries as well as symptoms. Drivers are at risk of sustaining these injuries every time they get behind the steering wheel, so it is important to be cognizant and properly informed with respect to all aspects of the process.
Sustaining a shoulder injury after a traumatic accident is common. The shoulder is a very complex part of the body where injuries are not always diagnosed in a timely matter; it can be difficult to determine the source of the pain. Many people suffer from shoulder pain or problems either immediately or shortly after not only an auto accident but also a motorcycle accident, bike accident, slip and fall, or work accident. The severe trauma to the shoulder joint caused by the impact of an accident causes the body to absorb a percentage of that impact; resulting in several different types of shoulder injuries. One thing is certain; everyone injures his or her shoulder at some point in life. Therefore, it is crucial for shoulder injuries to be treated.
If you suffered a shoulder injury in a car accident, contact the personal injury lawyers at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA for a free consultation. We have helped countless accident victims who have suffered from a wide range of injuries move ahead with their cases and pursue the maximum amount of compensation to which they are entitled.
Symptoms of Shoulder Injuries and Pain in Shoulder After Car Crash
The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint with three main bones. These bones include the: (i) scapula (shoulder blade), (ii) clavicle (collar bone) and (iii) arm bone (humerus). The bones are joined together by soft tissues such as ligaments, tendons, muscles, and joint capsules that, together, form a platform allowing for the arm to function properly. The shoulder joint also has the greatest range of motion out of any joint in the body. Due to this wide range of mobility, the shoulder is more susceptible to injury when compared to other areas of the body. It is extremely important to address the pain that may follow such a personal injury due to the process and the cost of treatment. Recovery time can be prolonged without the proper diagnoses and supplemental required treatment. Thus, some common symptoms of a shoulder injury to look out for include:
- An agonizingly tender and stiff shoulder that hurts more at night; may interrupt sleeping
- Tingling, lack of feeling, weakness, or inflammation in the shoulder
- Shoulder pain in a precise area that may worsen with physical exertion
- Trouble moving arm or arms in any direction without pain
- Sudden, concentrated pain in the shoulder area
- Pale, blue, or otherwise discolored shoulder area
Types of Shoulder Injuries – Common Shoulder Injuries from Car Accident and Related Arm Injuries from Car Accident
According to OrthoInfo, there are many types of shoulder injuries that fall under three general categories of physical impairment. These include fractures, dislocations, and soft-tissue injuries. Fractures are broken bones that, for shoulder injuries, commonly involve the clavicle, proximal humerus (top of the upper arm bone), and scapula. Dislocations occur when the bones on opposite sides of a joint do not line up. Finally, soft tissue injuries are tears of the ligaments, tendons, muscles, and joint capsule of the shoulder such as rotator cuff tears and labral (SLAP) tears.
This blog post will highlight specific injuries that apply to each type of shoulder injury in the following discussion, and we will conclude this section by briefly describing common neck injuries, particularly whiplash injuries, which are often directly related to shoulder injuries subsequent to being in a car accident.
Fractures – Clavicle Fracture/Proximal Humerus Fracture
Fractures of the clavicle or the proximal humerus can be caused by a direct blow to the area from a fall, collision, or motor vehicle impact. Most fractures are diagnosed by conducting X-rays of the affected area and by performing a physical examination. Sometimes, additional imaging techniques, such as CT scans, are necessary for a personal injury claim.
- For clavicle fractures, swelling at the middle of the collarbone area is often apparent. This area tends to have a “bump,” which are actually the prominent ends of the fracture under the skin. The shoulder range of movement is limited—although such a limitation is not quite as stark as what is commonly experienced with fractures of the proximal humerus.
- For proximal humerus fractures, a severely swollen shoulder will be prominent because such fractures affect a more durable bone when compared to the collarbone area. There is very limited movement associated with this type of shoulder fracture, and consequently, much more severe pain.
Both of these types of fractures can usually be treated without surgery assuming that the compound fracture has not broken through the skin, and if the bone is not severely out of place or position, as applicable. Surgery is typically required in instances where fixing fractured fragments of bone with plates, screws, or pins is required; it can also involve shoulder replacement.
Dislocations – Acromioclavicular Joint (AC Joint)
The acromioclavicular joint is where the collarbone (clavicle) meets the highest point of the shoulder blade (acromion). After studying countless injuries throughout the years, it has been concluded that the most common cause for a separation of the AC joint is from a direct fall onto the shoulder. This type of fall causes an injury to the ligaments which serve to frame and stabilize the AC joint. If the power of the fall is severe enough, the ligaments attached to the underside of the clavicle are torn.
This type of tear causes a separation of the collarbone and wing bone. The wing bone essentially moves downward, sinking from the weight of the arm. This creates a bump or bulge above the shoulder. An AC joint injury can range from a minor change in configuration with mild pain all the way to an injury-causing a deformity and resulting pain that is extreme and excruciating.
When such an injury causes a deformity, the injury is relatively easy to identify. Conversely, when there is a little deformity that is apparent, the precise location of the pain along with the help of X-rays function to determine the exact diagnosis. One of the ways that doctors provide a precise diagnosis of such an injury is by having the patient hold a weight in their hand on the side of the possible site of injury, and by doing so, the potential injury and deformity are much more apparent and easier to identify.
A mild AC injury usually involves a sprain of the AC ligament that does not move or alter the collarbone and appears normal on X-rays. A more serious form of this injury occurs when there is a tear of the AC ligament, and sprains in cases of slight tears to the coracoclavicular (CC) ligament. The resulting injury usually manifests by putting the collarbone out of alignment to some extent. The most severe form of shoulder separation completely tears both the AC and CC ligaments, noticeably and completely putting the AC joint out of proper alignment and out of position.
The treatment for this type of injury can be nonsurgical or surgical in nature.
Nonsurgical treatments, such as a sling, cold packs, and medications can help to manage the pain. The doctor may also come up with another way to support the injury so that it heals correctly with little to no resulting deformity. One of the upsides of sustaining such an injury is that a large percentage of people return to nearly or completely full functionality, despite sustaining a deformity.
There may be continued pain over time, but the functionality of the arm is usually returned to being close to normal. If the pain is persistent and proves to be impossible to live with, surgical treatment is available to restore not only the look of the area prior to the injury but also to minimize any long-term effects and/or symptoms. Overall, both treatments will necessitate therapy in order to restore and rebuild motion, strength, and flexibility.
Soft Tissue Injuries – Rotator Cuff Tears & SLAP Tears
A soft tissue injury is composed of tears to the ligaments, tendons, muscles, and the joint capsule of the shoulder. Both a rotator cuff tear and SLAP tears contribute to a variety of reasons for causation as well as contributing to complications following an accident or other personal injury. Shoulder injuries involving soft tissue damage are more common than bone injuries. However, the diagnosis is more difficult to distinguish. MRIs can be used to confirm the diagnosis but there needs to be a correlation of pain to injury. As such, it’s better to be fully informed regarding the symptoms and causes of each type of tear.
Rotator Cuff Tears – when the rotator cuff, which is a larger tendon comprised of four muscles that combine to form a cuff over the upper end of the arm, forms a tear. These four muscles include the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis, and teres minor. A rotator cuff tear may be due to an acute injury, such as a fall, or even chronic wear and tear with degeneration of the tendon from physical activities such as baseball.
The pain in a rotator cuff tear is normally felt in the front of the shoulder and radiates down the arm. The pain may appear in various instances, such as when an individual is trying to sleep on the side of the injury, or in the form of difficulty performing routine activities during the course of everyday life. In any case, the acute pain can usually be described as causing a snapping sensation as well as direct weakness of the arm.
This rotator cuff tear injury can become worse or increasingly severe over time if it is not addressed promptly by the right medical professional with the proper corresponding treatment. Whether the doctor recommends anti-inflammatory medication, steroid injections, or surgery following persistent pain or weakness in the shoulder, rehabilitation plays a critical role in both nonsurgical and surgical treatment of a rotator cuff tear.
SLAP Tears – an injury to the labrum of the shoulder, which is the ring of cartilage that surrounds the socket of the shoulder joint. SLAP stands for Superior Labrum Anterior and Posterior. This area of the upper arm’s head fits into a rounded socket in the shoulder blade, formally known as a ball-and-socket joint. Surrounding the edge of the socket is a rim of strong, fibrous tissue typically referred to as the labrum.
This tissue functions to help deepen the socket and to stabilize the shoulder joint, while also serving as an attachment point for many of the shoulder ligaments in addition to one of the tendons from the bicep muscles in the arm. Injuries to this area of the shoulder can be caused by acute trauma or by repetitive shoulder motion.
Acute trauma can be caused by auto accidents, slip and falls, forceful pulling of the arm as well as shoulder dislocation. Repetitive shoulder motion can cause SLAP injuries due to continuous stress. People who participate in sports involving a lot of overhead movements, such as weightlifters, can experience this injury. Similar to the rotator cuff, this injury has telltale symptoms of its presence such as a decreased range of motion and shoulder strength as well as pain with movement.
For these injuries, both nonsurgical treatment and surgical treatment are available—ranging from non-steroid anti-inflammatory medication to arthroscopy. The doctor will determine the best option depending on the severity of the injury and the resulting pain. Overall, rehabilitation will involve physical therapy to rebuild the strength in the affected area.
Whiplash Injuries – Neck/Back Pain and Whiplash Pain Between Shoulder Blades
Whiplash is typically caused due to the sudden and violent movement of the head jolting forward and quickly stopping, which is most commonly sustained following a car accident, even in cases where the car accident victims were properly wearing a seat belt. In some instances, the seatbelt may actually worsen the impact and the resulting injuries caused by whiplash. Traditionally, whiplash will commonly cause neck and back pain which will then move down to the shoulders and arms. It may manifest in the form of neck pain and stiffness, limited range of mobility of the injured area, tingling and numbness of the injured area, and in severe cases, may cause serious damage to the soft tissues present in the neck area, including muscles, ligaments and nerves.
Most often, such car accident injuries are treated with nonsurgical treatment, including but not limited to pain management, physical therapy, and medication, as necessary and as determined by your medical professional depending upon the specific circumstances and details present in your case.
Chiropractic Treatment Options – How Chiropractors Treat Shoulder Pain Following An Accident
One effective and common form of treatment following an accident involving shoulder pain is chiropractic treatment. This type of treatment is non-surgical in nature and may involve the use of a diverse range of techniques aimed at treating and minimizing shoulder, neck and back pain and injuries resulting from a car accident.
Chiropractors may utilize a spinal adjustment technique in order to alleviate common shoulder injuries, which involves the realignment of the spinal vertebrae, helping to improve and increase the range of motion and reduce joint pressure which will help with reducing pain and discomfort. Massage therapy techniques increase and restore blood flow to affected areas of the body and can also serve to improve the range of mobility in the shoulder blade, upper arm, and other affected areas. Finally, chiropractors may direct the patient to perform a series of exercises and stretches as part of their physical therapy and rehabilitation process, which will also help the patient to regain strength and mobility in the shoulder and other injured areas of the body.
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Shoulder Injury Diagnosis
If you are experiencing pain in your shoulder after a car accident, you should see an orthopedic surgeon to fully diagnose the extent of your injury. If you’re not sure if your shoulder is injured or just sore from the accident, think about the following three questions:
- Is your shoulder stiff? Can you rotate your shoulder and move your arm in the normal way you would have before the crash?
- Do you feel as if you might pop your shoulder out of the socket when moving it around?
- Is your sore shoulder weak enough that daily activities have become difficult?
If any of the above scenarios are applicable to you, it is likely that your shoulder was injured during the course of the accident. Listen to your body and be cognizant of all symptoms, it knows and usually alerts you when something is wrong.
Shoulder Injury Test
When an orthopedic doctor is examining a patient for shoulder injuries, they will perform a series of physical examinations, or tests, that are used to determine the extent and the location of an injury. This physical examination typically involves looking for visual abnormalities, moving the shoulder into certain positions, and receiving feedback from the patient regarding their pain and discomfort levels.
When it comes to locating a specific shoulder injury, there are over a hundred physical tests that orthopedic doctors perform in order to properly diagnose and evaluate the injury. These include the Mazion Shoulder Maneuver, Dugas, Anterior Load and Shift, Rowe Test, and Jerk Test, to name a few. For a full list of orthopedic shoulder tests and the corresponding injuries which they diagnose, please visit physicaltherapyweb.com.
Most shoulder injury tests consist of examining the range of motion of both shoulders. This is usually accomplished by utilizing multiple positions, including sitting, lying down, and standing. These tests are commonly comprised of: the patient moving their shoulder on their own, as well as the doctor moving the patient’s shoulder for them. They are designed to evaluate resistance, strength, and pain levels, allowing the doctor to efficiently and accurately assess the injury.
The orthopedic surgeon will also examine the patient’s sense of feeling in their shoulders, arms, and hands, as well as the blood flow to each of these areas. This light physical pressure, combined with the process of measuring the patient’s pulse can help a physician to precisely locate the injury.
Since shoulder pain can often be a result of other related injuries, a good orthopedic doctor will also examine the patient’s neck, spine, and chest to be sure that these areas are not primarily responsible for generating the patient’s specific pain and injury.
Shoulder Injury Imaging
Just like any other physical injury to a bone or muscle, imaging is commonly used to diagnose shoulder injuries by giving physicians an internal look at the shoulder and any possible injuries. The most commonly used forms of imaging are: the X-ray, MRI, CT scan, and ultrasound.
X-raying a Shoulder Injury
A standard X-ray is still a common way to image for injuries since they are relatively inexpensive and effective. These two-dimensional images can be used to view:
- The space between the joints
- Location of cartilage
- Abnormal growths, like bone spurs
- Fractures in the bone
Sometimes, doctors will inject a contrast dye into the shoulder so that it will appear more clearly on the X-ray. This process is referred to as arthrography.
MRI of a Shoulder Injury
Magnetic Resonance Imaging, commonly known as an MRI, has overtaken X-rays to become the most common imaging method of choice for severe shoulder injuries. This is due to the fact that this type of imaging can produce much more detailed, 3D images of the shoulder structures, including very small tendons, vessels, muscle tears, and fractures. Similar to the X-ray, a dye may be used by the radiologist to produce more contrasted images.
CT Scan of Shoulder Injury
‘CT scan’ stands for computed tomography scan. It may also be called a ‘CAT scan’, which is short for computerized axial tomography. This imaging technique combines a traditional X-ray with computer technology to produce multiple images, which, by utilizing specialized software, are used to create a cross-sectional view of the shoulder structure. CT scans are most helpful for diagnosing minute fractures and soft-tissue damage.
Shoulder Injury Ultrasound
Ultrasonography is most commonly thought of as a way of viewing the fetus of a pregnant woman. However, this sound wave test can also be used on other parts of the body to examine shoulder tendons and muscles as they actively move around; something the other types of tests have a hard time doing effectively. The ultrasound is limited in its use, however, as it is unable to distinguish and identify any type of bone damage.
Properly Evaluating a Shoulder Injury Claim
Properly evaluating a shoulder injury case typically involves an analysis of all aspects of a case and its details to most effective product what a jury may ultimately award the injured party, while simultaneously considering what the at-fault party may be willing and/or able to pay. All of this information must also be weighed against the strength of the case overall, and each party’s willingness to either settle the case or take their chances at trial, depending on the particular facts involved in the personal injury case.
Evidently, this type of evaluation involves many factors and circumstances, but two broad categories of consideration include:
- the nature and extent of the injured party’s injuries, losses, and resulting damages (comprised of everything ranging from medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, etc.) and their corresponding valuations
- the likelihood that the at-fault party would be found liable for the plaintiff’s injuries, for purposes of (i) properly evaluating the likelihood and amount of a potential settlement, and (ii) whether a jury would find the defendant liable should the case ultimately proceed to trial.
Auto Injury Attorneys – Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
It is very common for the insurance company to deny claims, stating that the pain that car accident victims are complaining of is actually due to a former injury. However, the best course of action for the purposes of defeating this type of claim or allegation is to seek immediate and consistent medical treatment for evidence of the alleged injury. Aside from this type of proof or evidence, there are many other essential resources that are required for a shoulder injury case that only an experienced attorney can aid the victim with. There are many misconceptions and false information provided to people injured in car accidents. Don’t fall victim to this type of information, and be fully aware of your rights. As a first step after being injured in an accident and experiencing shoulder pain, contact the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA for the sole purpose of knowing your rights and what benefits you’re eligible for that insurance companies may try to deny you. Contact us today for a free case evaluation and free consultation regarding your claim. Our number is (866) 995-5714.