Is Shoulder Pain Common After a Car Accident?

shoulder pain

Some injuries are more common than others, particularly from a car accident. Connected to the neck and back, the shoulder area is often injured by the sheer impact of a crash, as the driver or passenger put their arm out to brace themselves. Because it is such a complex structure, shoulder injuries are not always apparent, can take days or weeks after an accident to appear, and can also be difficult to diagnose. 

What Causes a Shoulder Injury?

It is common to suffer a shoulder injury when in a car accident, especially if you are a driver. A driver naturally has the hands on the steering wheel, and if so at the moment of impact, the jolt alone will likely cause an injury to the shoulder, neck and back, as they are connected. The same can be seen with a passenger; a passenger will likely grab the dashboard or another part of the car to brace themselves. 

Finally, a three-point seat belt can cause a shoulder injury, as seat belts lock when an impact is detected, restraining the body back while the head and neck move forward. This is also known as whiplash. 

Common Shoulder Injuries

Because shoulder injuries can take some time to manifest, it is important to seek medical help immediately following an accident. Some symptoms of a shoulder injury include:

  • Bruising or contusions.
  • Cracking or popping noises while moving shoulder.
  • Muscle cramps or spasms.
  • Neck or upper back pain.
  • Swelling in affected area.
  • Stiffness or limited range of motion.

The shoulder has many moving parts. Damage to the tendons, muscles, nerves, bones, or ligaments can lead to debilitating pain and injury, including:

  • Rotator cuff tear: This type of injury is common when the vehicle is struck while the driver or passenger has their arm out to brace themselves. There is soft tissue in the rotator cuff, which is made up of four muscles that secure the shoulder joint into the socket. When torn, recovery may include surgery down the road.
  • Whiplash: Whiplash occurs when the head violently moves back and forth in a whip-like motion while the body is secured. Should there be a strain or tear to the neck and back, which is likely during whiplash, the shoulders are likely affected as they all operate together. 
  • Soft tissue: Soft tissue injuries are common stemming from a car accident, especially to the shoulder. The shoulder is composed of mostly soft tissue, with muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and blood vessels all operating together for the shoulder to operate properly. An injury to any part of the shoulder can cause pain, swelling, weakness, tingling sensations, and loss of movement. 
  • Fracture: Surrounded by the soft tissue, there are numerous bones in the shoulder structure, with the main bones being the clavicle and the humerus. Fractures and breaks are common in car accidents, and the shoulder’s bones are no exception. Fractured clavicles, also known as the collar bone, are common in an accident because the seat belt lays over it. Shoulders are also susceptible to impact from the dashboard, steering wheel or window. 
  • Dislocation: Car accidents happen at such forceful impact that it can cause a dislocation of the humerus to the shoulder joint. This causes obvious pain, and the shoulder loses its mobility. It can take many weeks or months to recover from a dislocated shoulder. 

The Mount Laurel Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Office of David S. Rochman Help Accident Victims Who Have Suffered Shoulder Injuries

The aftermath of a car accident can be difficult, especially if you have suffered an injury. Shoulder injuries are common in accidents, as they are attached to other vital parts of the body, the neck, back, and spine. If you have been injured in an accident and need help right away, contact our experienced Mount Laurel car accident lawyers at the Law Office of David S. Rochman immediately. Call us today at 856-751-2345 or fill out our online form for a free consultation. With our offices located in Mount Laurel, NJ, we proudly serve all communities of Mount Laurel and surrounding areas.