With the amount of force that occurs in car accidents, there are several types of injuries that can take place. One of the groups of the body that is more susceptible to injury is the shoulder region.
There are three main shoulder injuries we see:
- Soft tissue tears (rotator cuff, for example)
Fractures commonly involve the collar bone, top of the upper arm bone and the shoulder blade. Fractures can be caused by a direct blow to the area from a fall, collision or car accident.
The shoulder blade is protected by the chest and surrounding muscles, so it is not easily fractured. So, in this case, this type of injury is caused by high-energy trauma, such as a high-speed car accident. These types of injuries are often associated with injuries to the chest.
Symptoms of Fractures are:
- Swelling and bruising
- Inability to move the shoulder
- A grinding sensation when the shoulder is moved
There are three types of fractures that can take place:
- A Clavical fracture is located in the middle of the collarbone area and will create a limited range of motion for the shoulder.
- A Proximal Humerus Fracture is located at the top of the arm bone and will create a severely swollen shoulder, with severe pain.
- A Scapular Fracture is located within the shoulder blade and there will be visible bruising around the shoulder blade.
Dislocations are broken down into two categories:
- Anterior – which is caused by the arm being forcefully twisted outward when the arm is above the level of the shoulder.
- Posterior – occurs from seizures or electric shocks when the muscles of the front of the shoulder contract and forcefully tighten.
- Fractures and dislocations can be treated without surgery, however, if the injury is severe enough surgery will be needed.
The most common soft tissue tear we see – a torn rotator cuff.
The rotator cuff is one of the most important components of the shoulder. Its job is to hold the bones of the shoulder joint together. The rotator cuff muscles allow individuals the ability to lift their arm and reach overhead.
The injury can range from mild to severe.
A rotator cuff tear can be caused by overuse or acute injury, such as a car accident.
The tendons within this muscle group can overstretch or tear, partially or completely. These injuries cause intense and immediate pain.
Symptoms of a rotator cuff injury are:
- Difficulty achieving full range of motion
- Difficulty sleeping on the affected shoulder
- Pain or tenderness when reaching overhead
- Pain in the shoulder, especially at night
- Progressive weakness of the shoulder
- Trouble reaching behind the back
Typically 50 percent of individuals who suffer from a torn rotator cuff can improve symptoms without surgery.