What to Do After You Injure Your Shoulder in a Car Accident
The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint that connects the humerus, shoulder blade and collarbone together. It consists of tendons, muscles, bones, cartilage and ligaments.
If the shoulder becomes injured, some people notice that their shoulder hurts shortly after they are involved in a slip and fall, a job-related incident or a motor vehicle accident in West Virginia; however, for others, the symptoms may not become apparent for days. The delay in the onset of symptoms during and directly after an injury is due to the body’s release of a variety of hormones, including the ‘fight or flight’ hormone (adrenaline). For this reason, anyone who is involved in an accident should seek medical attention right away.
The Anatomy of the Shoulder
Ligaments are the strong, ropy fibers that connect the bones. Ligaments assist with stabilizing the shoulder joint. Tendons are the tough, ropy fibers that connect the muscles to bones. The muscles and tendons hold the humerus in place, which allows for rotation of the arm. The deltoid muscle allows the arm to be raised and the biceps tendon gives an individual the ability to rotate his or her forearm as well as bend the elbow. The cartilage and fibrous tissue covering the shoulder socket (labrum) helps to keep the shoulder stable.
Two Joints Working Together
Although the shoulder is frequently considered a single joint, the shoulder actually consists of two joints: the glenohumeral (GH) and acromioclavicular (AC) joints. These joints work in conjunction with one another to provide the shoulder a wide range of motion: In fact, the shoulder joint is the most flexible joint in the body. However, this mobility makes the shoulder more likely to become injured. When the shoulder becomes injured, it can cause an individual to experience severe pain.
How the Shoulder May Become Injured During a Car Accident in West Virginia
The shoulder may sustain an injury while an individual braces himself or herself before impact. In addition, shoulder injuries from car accidents can be caused by seat belts, because of a sudden jerking motion or from having direct impact with the car door.
Signs and Symptoms of a Shoulder Injury
When the shoulder becomes injured, an individual may experience:
- a sudden, intense pain in the shoulder;
- a numb or tingling sensation;
- a painfully tender or stiff shoulder;
- a decrease in range of motion;
- pain and weakness;
- changes in temperature;
- heavy bruising; and/or
- discoloration of the shoulder area.
Types of shoulder injuries that cause these symptoms include:
- torn tendons and/or ligaments;
- fractures to the shoulder blade, collar bone or upper arm;
- a torn rotator cuff; as well as
- sprains or strains.
Treating Shoulder Injuries Following a Car Accident: What to Expect
When a shoulder injury is sustained during a car accident, immediate medical attention is vital. Depending on the injury, immobilization of the shoulder may be required. Some injuries (e.g., broken bones, torn rotator cuff, etc.) do require surgery.
Some shoulder injuries include:
- Dislocation – this injury occurs when the ball of the humerus is no longer within the socket due to some type of sudden movement (e.g., twisting). The bone must be pushed back into place and a sling must be worn to ensure the bone stays where it belongs. If dislocation of the shoulder reoccurs, the soft tissue in the affected area is most likely damaged and surgical intervention may be necessary.
- Fractures – a fracture can cause severe pain and inflammation. The treatment received depends on the severity of the injury as well as its location. A minor fracture usually heals on its own; however, more serious fractures will require surgery. During this type of operation, the doctor repairs the affected bone.
- Impingement – this type of injury causes pain when the arm is raised or moved away from the body. Impingement occurs when the shoulder blade is pushed against the soft tissue directly beneath it. Surgical intervention may be necessary to reduce the likelihood of the individual suffering rotator cuff tears.
- A rotator cuff tear – this injury occurs when the tendons in the rotator cuff rupture. These tears are painful and the pain level experienced can range from mild to severe. The treatment for a rotator cuff tear usually includes taking non-prescription medications, applying ice or heat to the affected area and resting. If these conservative measures are ineffective, surgery may be necessary.
Reasons People Seek a Shoulder Injury Car Accident Settlement
A shoulder injury after an accident will most likely affect every area of an individual’s life. Besides the pain and suffering associated with a shoulder injury, time off work is probable. Furthermore, medications, diagnostic tests (e.g., x-rays, a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) study, etc.), doctor appointments, physical therapy sessions and, when applicable, surgery, finding a caretaker, and a driver are all changes that frequently have to be made.
The shoulder injury compensation amount an individual receives depends on the type of injury sustained, the degree of the injury as well as a variety of other factors. If you or someone you are close to has sustained a shoulder injury due to a car accident, or any other type of accident, contact Johnstone & Gabhart, LLC today to schedule your complimentary initial consultation at our law firm in West Virginia.