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Shoulder Injuries

Does your shoulder hurt since you had a car accident? Unfortunately, shoulders are often injured during accidents. Here's why and some common symptoms you might experience

Your shoulder is a frequently used joint that you may not entirely notice until it is injured or in some sort of pain. Shoulders get injured very easily, and very often, in car or other motor vehicle accidents. The left shoulder is also slightly more susceptible as it is the shoulder covered by the seat belt and receives the most pressure from being restrained during a car accident.

Here are a few common injuries that your shoulder may undergo if you are involved in a traffic collision:

AC joint injury

The AC joint is the acromioclavicular joint, and the separation of the two bones forming this joint is caused by damage to the ligaments which connect them. It may commonly be referred to as a "shoulder separation" injury. This joint is formed by the out end of your collar bone (clavicle), and the acromion process of the shoulder blade (scapular). This joint forms in the highest part of the shoulder. The two bones attach by the acromioclavicular ligament. Because joints are so dense with muscle, tendons, cartilage and ligaments, any number of injuries in these areas can affect another, and the AC joint could be affected by other closely worked body fissures within that region to cause pain, discomfort, atrophy, and loss of range of motion.

AC Joint Shoulder BulgeAC Joint Grade III Tear

Symptoms of an AC joint injury include pain at the end of the collarbone, widespread pain throughout the shoulder followed by pain at a specific site, swelling, a possible step-deformity with an obvious lump where the joint has been disrupted, and pain on moving the shoulders, especially when trying to raise the arms above shoulder height.

Impingement syndrome

Impingement syndrome is sometimes referred to as "Swimmer's shoulder" or "Thrower's shoulder", and is caused by the tendons of the rotator cuff becoming irritated and inflamed as they pass through a narrow bony space near the shoulder called the subacromial space. This creates a problem because it can lead to thickening of the tendon, which can cause further problems as the tendons become larger and larger and cause even greater degree of impingement in the shoulder joint.

Shoulder Impingement Syndrome

External symptoms of impingement include pain at the front or side of the shoulder joint with activity that requires your arms to move above shoulder level, such as throwing or swimming, and pain at the back or front of the shoulder when the arm is held out to the side or turned outwards.

Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS):

Thoracic outlet syndrome is an umbrella term that encompasses three related syndromes that can cause pain in the arm, shoulder, and neck: neurogenic TOS, vascular TOS, and nonspecific TOS. It is not uncommon for neurogenic and vascular TOS to both exist within the same person. A majority of doctors agree that TOS is caused by the compression of the brachial plexus or subclavian vessels as they pass through narrow passageways leading from the base of the neck to the armpit and arm, though it's diagnosis and treatment remain disputed.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Symptoms of TOS are different depending on their respective locations:

Neurogenic TOS

Has severe wasting in the fleshy base of the thumb. Generally there is numbness along the underside of the forearm and hand, as well as aching pain in the neck, shoulder, and armpit. Vascular TOS has a weak or absent pulse in the affected arm, which may also be cool to touch and appear a bit paler than the other arm in comparison. Other symptoms are numbness, tingling, aching, and heaviness. Non specific TOS includes dull pain in the neck, shoulder, and armpit, that tends to get worse with activity. It tends to be triggered by a traumatic event like work injuries or car accidents. It is also highly prevalent in athletes such as weight lifters, swimmers, tennis and baseball pitchers.

TOS tends to be more common in women. Onset happens between 20 and 50 years, and doctors recommend nerve conduction studies, or imaging studies to confirm or rule out a diagnosis of TOS.

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