Shoulder Injury

Car accidents can be a frightening and disorienting experience. In the aftermath of the collision, the adrenaline rush might mask any underlying injuries. However, shoulder pain is a common complaint after a car accident, and it’s crucial to address it promptly.

A shoulder injury like a dislocation or a torn rotator cuff may result in pain up to 12 months following the incident. This can upend your life, especially if you are unable to work and bills keep pilling. As such, it is imperative to visit a practitioner as soon as possible for an accurate assessment and treatment.

If you reside in Georgia and are experiencing shoulder pain, visit Georgia Spine & Orthopedics. We have extensive knowledge and expertise in handling all kinds of musculoskeletal problems. Our team will create a personalized treatment and recovery program to help you return to normalcy. Call us at 404-596-5670 to get started.

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What Should I Do if I Have Shoulder Pain After a Car Accident?

Shoulder pain after a car accident is not uncommon and can indicate various underlying injuries. Here’s what you should do if you find yourself in this situation.

Seek a Medical Examination

Do not ignore the pain. Even if it seems mild initially, it’s important to see a doctor to get a proper diagnosis. A medical professional can assess the extent of your shoulder injury and recommend the most appropriate course of treatment. Early intervention is key to preventing complications and ensuring a faster recovery.

Get Treatment for the Diagnosis

Once you have a diagnosis, follow your doctor’s treatment plan diligently. This may involve rest, physical therapy, medication, or even surgery in severe cases. Sticking to the treatment plan will maximize your chances of a full recovery and minimize the risk of long-term damage.

Keep Medical Documentation for Insurance and Your Personal Injury Case

Collect and maintain copies of all medical bills, doctor’s reports, and other relevant medical documentation. This paperwork would be crucial for filing insurance claims and potentially pursuing a personal injury case if someone else’s negligence caused the accident.

Don’t Try to Tough It Out

You might be tempted to push through the pain and resume your daily activities as usual. However, this approach can have serious consequences. Ignoring shoulder pain can lead to:

  • Worsening of the injury: Without proper diagnosis and treatment, the initial injury could worsen, leading to long-term complications like chronic pain, stiffness, and limited mobility.
  • Delayed recovery: Ignoring pain can delay proper treatment, extending your recovery time and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Additional complications: An untreated shoulder injury can lead to complications like arthritis, frozen shoulder, and nerve damage.

Talk to a Lawyer

If the car accident was caused by someone else’s negligence, consider consulting with a personal injury lawyer. They can advise you on your legal rights and options. A competent car accident lawyer can help you navigate the complexities of insurance claims and potentially pursue compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Contact Auto Insurance

Regardless of who caused the accident, it’s important to contact your auto insurance company as soon as possible. Report the accident and inquire about your coverage for medical expenses and vehicle repairs.

Don’t Sign Any Settlements or Agreements Before Speaking to an Attorney

Before signing any settlements or agreements with the at-fault party’s insurance company, consult with your lawyer. These agreements might appear appealing in the short term, but they could potentially limit your ability to seek additional compensation later on if the full extent of your injuries becomes apparent.

Shoulder injury

What Are Common Shoulder Injuries?

Shoulder pain is a result of damage to the arm’s delicate structures, including muscles, bones, tendons, cartilage, ligaments, and nerves. The impact of a collision can tear soft tissues, fracture, and dislocate the bones. Here are some common shoulder injuries from car accidents.


This is an injury that results from rapid movement of the neck and skull. A car crash impact, particularly a rear-end collision, exerts a force that jolts half of the body forward and instantly snaps it backward. This causes the muscles and other tissues to stretch and tear. Most of the soft tissues found in the neck connect to the shoulder, so it is not surprising to have shoulder pain as a symptom of whiplash.

In cases of intense whiplash, the subsequent inflammation could reduce the space within the shoulder joint. Consequently, the shoulder bone may come into contact with soft tissues such as ligaments, leading to a painful situation referred to as shoulder impingement. This form of injury calls for immediate medical attention.

Torn Rotator Cuff

The rotator cuff has four muscles that make tendons to hold the shoulder joint in place. If someone in a car accident gets hit very fast or holds the steering wheel very tightly before the crash, the soft part in the rotator cuff can rip.


A SLAP tear, an abbreviation for superior labrum anterior to posterior tear, refers to a tear in the cartilage within the shoulder joint. Joints facilitate the mobility of your shoulders, and when the cartilage tears, it can lead to arm instability. Unlike rotator cuff tears, symptoms of a torn labrum are typically felt at the front of the shoulder rather than throughout the entire shoulder.

Clavicle Fracture

The clavicle, or collarbone, is a fragile bone that can break in a car accident, especially if you brace yourself against the dashboard with your arm extended. This fracture can cause significant shoulder pain and instability.

Dislocated Shoulder

The force of the impact can cause the bones in the shoulder joint to pop out of place, resulting in severe pain, swelling, and instability. Again, you will want to seek medical attention immediately if this happens.

What Are the Common Symptoms of a Shoulder Injury?

The shoulder, a fragile ball-and-socket joint, is highly prone to injury, particularly during a car accident. While some discomfort is normal after a collision, intense shoulder pain could indicate a serious injury.

The main sign of a shoulder injury resulting from a car accident is pain in the shoulder, upper back, and arm. Other common symptoms include instability in the shoulder joint, restricted movement, or pain radiating from the shoulder blade. The pain could start immediately after the accident or in the subsequent days.

Pain that emerges one to two days post-accident is known as delayed pain. This delayed onset of pain after accidents often makes it challenging to gauge the severity of shoulder injuries until it’s too late. Without prompt treatment, the injury could deteriorate over time or even lead to permanent damage.

Shoulder injury treatment

Here are some other key symptoms of a possible shoulder injury from a car collision:

  • Swelling and stiffness
  • Weakness or inability to move
  • Limited motion range
  • Bruising or discoloration
  • Neck and upper back pain
  • Joint instability
  • Numbness
  • Cracking sound when moving
  • Muscle spasms or cramps in the shoulders or arms

Do not wait until the pain becomes unbearable. Visit a doctor who specializes in orthopedics immediately.

What Are Some Common Shoulder Injury Treatments?

Fortunately, there are many effective ways to deal with shoulder pain. Of course, the appropriate one depends on the cause and severity of the injury. That said, here’s a breakdown of some common approaches to a shoulder injury.

Home Remedies

  • Rest: The simplest remedy is sometimes the best. Refrain from activities that strain the shoulder and give it time to heal.
  • Ice & Heat Therapy: Consider applying ice packs for 15 minutes at a time to help reduce inflammation in the early stages of an injury. Heat can be helpful for chronic pain, but avoid it if there’s swelling.
  • OTC Pain Relievers: Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help alleviate pain and inflammation.

As an additional tip, ensure you maintain a good posture. Practice sitting up straight and keeping the shoulders back and relaxed. This will help prevent strain and accelerate recovery from a shoulder injury.

Medical Interventions

  • Physical Therapy: Our physical therapists can design a personalized exercise program that improves flexibility, strengthens muscles, and restores the range of motion in your shoulder.
  • Corticosteroid Injections: These injections can provide targeted relief from inflammation in your shoulder joint.
  • Immobilization: In some cases, a sling or brace might be recommended to immobilize your shoulder and promote healing.

Surgical Solutions

In some situations, orthopedic surgery may be the only viable solution. Some examples include:

  • Rotator cuff repair: If a tear in your rotator cuff is causing significant pain, surgery might be necessary to repair the damaged tendon.
  • Shoulder replacement: In severe cases of arthritis or joint damage, shoulder replacement surgery may be an option to restore function and alleviate pain.

Get the Right Shoulder Injury Treatment in Georgia!

Experiencing shoulder pain after an auto accident can be challenging, but taking the right steps can lead to a successful recovery. Seek medical attention immediately, document your injuries and expenses, and consult a personal injury lawyer to protect your rights.

If you’re in Georgia and you or a loved one has a shoulder injury, schedule an appointment by calling us at 404-596-5670. Our team at Georgia Spine & Orthopaedics will ensure early diagnosis and treatment for a swift recovery!


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