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Why Shoulder Pain Is a Commonly Reported Car Accident Injury

Should pain after car accident | Nagle & Associates, Car Crash Attorney

Shoulder pain is a common complaint after car accidents. Never ignore it, no matter how insignificant it may seem. Sometimes, minor aches can be a symptom of a serious condition that requires immediate treatment.

In addition to seeking prompt medical attention, you should speak to a personal injury attorney about your legal rights and options.  A legal consultation is free and can be handled with a phone call. Compensation for shoulder pain in car accident injuries is generally available, and you want to take proper steps to protect your legal rights and preserve your claims.

Why Are Shoulder Injuries Common in Car Accidents?

The shoulder is a complex system consisting of three bones, three joints, four tendons, and eight muscles. It is the joint with the greatest range of motion in the body, but the complex structure of muscles, bones, and tendons is rather fragile when impacted by trauma.  Simply put, it doesn’t take much force to disturb this finely balanced structure and cause injury.

Car accident victims are especially prone to shoulder trauma. Counterintuitively, seatbelts are a leading cause of injury. In a collision, the seatbelt often causes the weight of your body to exert excessive pressure on your arms and shoulder area, resulting in pain, bruising, and various injuries.

The most common collision-related cause of significant shoulder injuries results from our natural tendency to brace for impact by straightening the arm and holding tight on the steering wheel.  As the car is impacted, the body is thrown forward but the arm remains straight.  This causes stress on the wrist/hand and severe stress and jarring trauma to the shoulder.  Bracing for impact commonly causes serious shoulder injuries including tears in the labrum and the rotator cuff which are not revealed in x-rays, but ultimately require surgical repairs and painful post-surgical physical therapy.

Common Types of Shoulder Injuries

Shoulder injuries range from mild bruising to serious conditions that cause chronic pain and permanent disability. Common types of shoulder injuries include:

  • Sprains and strains: These occur when you overstretch or tear muscles and ligaments in the shoulder.
  • Tendonitis: Tendonitis is inflammation of the tendons, which are the tissues that connect the muscles to the shoulder bones.
  • Bursitis: Bursitis is inflammation of the tiny fluid-filled sacs, also known as bursae, that cushion the shoulder joints.
  • Rotator cuff injuries: The rotator cuff is the system of muscles and tendons that help move and support your shoulder.
  • Dislocations: These occur when the bone of your upper arm separates partially or fully from the shoulder blade.
  • Whiplash: Whiplash involves straining the muscles and ligaments in the neck when you suddenly throw your head and neck forward and backward.  These neck injuries often cause radiculopathy, which is pain that transfers from the neck into the shoulder area.
  • Fractures: Fractures of the collarbone, upper arm bone, and shoulder blade can all result from shoulder trauma.
  • Labrum Tears:  The labrum is the band of tissue that connects the head of the humerus (upper arm bone) to the scapula (shoulder blade).  If this band tears, it will not heal without surgical repair.  Small tears are often treated with physical therapy, strengthening the area around the shoulder and minimizing symptoms from the tear.

Symptoms of Shoulder Injuries

Some shoulder injuries are not immediately apparent. You may start feeling pain immediately after the car accident or days later. Pain that starts up to 48 hours following a car accident is known as delayed pain and is common in shoulder injuries. Other symptoms of shoulder injury include the following:

  • Bruising or discoloration
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness
  • Dull aching pain
  • Stabbing or shooting pain
  • Upper back and neck pain
  • Reduced range of motion, especially the inability to reach overhead
  • Loss of feeling in the arm
  • Numbness or tingling around the shoulder
  • Instability in the joint
  • A grinding sensation in the shoulder
  • Weakness or inability to move
  • Popping or cracking sounds when moving
  • Muscle cramps or spasms in the arms or shoulders
  • Bumps or bulges near the collarbone or on the shoulder

Watch for symptoms or changes in your condition in the days and weeks following the car accident. If you notice anything unusual, seek medical attention immediately.

Have a Shoulder Injury? Call a Car Crash Attorney

Shoulder injuries are typically challenged by insurance companies.  Because arthritis and degeneration are common for active adults and for most elderly patients, insurance adjusters demand past medical records and point to prior complaints of pain to support their contention that the claimed shoulder injury is a “pre-existing condition”.  They also note any degeneration or arthritis revealed in shoulder x-rays or MRI imaging, and they contend that the collision did not cause these conditions, and thus they owe nothing for the shoulder injury claim.  

Contact Nagle and Associates Personal Injury Trial Lawyers if you injured your shoulder in a car accident. Our personal injury law firm only handles serious injury claims arising from roadway accidents.  Mr. Nagle is a former claims adjuster, and he knows how to shift your adjuster’s focus so they understand that the car accident caused your pain and problems.  We stand ready to help people with shoulder pain from car accident injuries seek fair compensation for their medical expenses, lost income, pain, suffering, and more.

Contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney. Please call now at (866) 944-4257.