Shoulder Pain

Most car accident victims report pain within the first 24 hours. The body is still shaken by the adrenaline rush and hasn’t had time to process the shock of the event. Only when the victim begins to enter into a rest state, the body gives the alarm signals.

Post-crash care is essential to avoid injuries that complicate long-term mobility and sensation. Depending on the damage and the source of the pain, treatment changes. Some injuries can be treated at home with enough rest and care; however, others are important enough to require medical treatment, including therapy and surgery.

Shoulder pain after a car accident is one of the most common causes of visits to internists, chiropractors, and orthopedic surgeons. They’re flexible enough to allow movement of the arms, neck, and head, and as such, absorb the force of the shock from the impact.

So how do you deal with the pain? How do you identify the causes of the pain? In this post, we answer the 5 most common questions asked by shoulder pain victims.

Side note: Consider that an internet blog will never supplant a doctor’s diagnosis. If you suspect you have a complex injury after reading this, please see a specialist.

1. What are the general symptoms of a shoulder injury?

Usually, patients who suspect a shoulder injury have common symptoms.

  • The most obvious is pain. It can be located in a specific part (for example, the tip that connects the arm to the shoulder) or in the entire area.
  • One symptom of damage is, of course, inflammation (edema). It occurs when muscles or bones are misplaced or if there is an infection.
  • Bruising (hematoma) from a blow, tingling, and dullness are also possible. Both of these symptoms are related to problems in the nervous system.
  • The lack of mobility could be due to muscle contraction, a fracture, or a neurological injury.
  • In less frequent cases, sudden temperature changes in the shoulder are related to infection (empyema) or lack of blood flow.

2. How do I know I have a shoulder injury?

If you have any of the symptoms from the previous question, it’s quite likely that you have injured your shoulders.

Keep in mind that there are minor injuries that don’t require therapy, just enough rest and a routine of remedies that you can follow at home. However, you should never wait for the discomfort to get worse when it comes to the shoulder due to the complexity of the joint.  Waiting could mean irreparable damage to the shoulder. 

Ideally, if you have shoulder pain after a car accident, consult an orthopedist or chiropractor who understands and treats trauma inflicted by collisions such as car accident and motorcycle accidents.

3. What are the possible causes of discomfort?

If you’ve been in a car accident, there are probably two reasons for your discomfort:

  1. Your shoulders absorbed the impact of the blow. The tension by the impact’s force and the arms clinging to the steering wheel, dashboard or seat is discharged into your shoulders. Because of its flexibility and joint complexity, it’s common to suffer.
  2. You received a direct hit. The shoulders and head are the first to be damaged due to a lack of control during the crash.

4. What care can I do from home?

When you have a minor injury (contraction, tendinitis, bursitis), it’s possible to follow a treatment from home once you go to the specialist.

If you have pain or inflammation, try using an ice pack wrapped in a light fabric for 10 minutes. The cold relaxes the nerves, so it will help you relieve the pain. You can repeat this routine several times a day, as many times as you think necessary. Pain relievers such as Tylenol will also decrease the discomfort.

Doing physical therapy exercises will decrease the risk of long-term damage. Before searching online, it’s best to ask your trusted doctor to establish a healthy routine.

Rest is essential for the shoulders to heal. If you have a fracture, your bones most likely need to be immobilized. Try as much as possible not to make any sudden movements or carry any weight.

When your shoulder pain is due to muscle contractions, maintaining an upright posture will facilitate recovery. Getting enough rest will also make a difference!

5. When is it wise to go to the doctor?

At the beginning of the post, we said that the day after the accident is when the body starts showing symptoms of damage.

If you have acute pain that is not relieved by painkillers or compresses after those 24 hours, make an appointment with a Chiropractic Physician or Medical Physician that understands these types of injuries.  This will save you discomfort later on, such as lack of mobility or recurrent pain or worse, irreparable damage.

It’s not good to feel shoulder pain after a car accident

Shoulders are very susceptible to the impact. They conduct the arms’ tension and the jolt of the neck and head against the impact’s force. The causes of shoulder pain after an accident are diverse. It all depends on the symptoms and the type of injury:

  • The mildest injuries are bumps, bruises, and possible muscle contractions, which are caused by a straight strike to a surface. 
  • If the blow is too powerful, there may be muscle tears (sprains) and, in complex cases, a torn rotator cuff. This is a ligament that unifies and allows movement between the acromion and the arm.
  • Fractures of the clavicle, humerus, and neck are also common. See a doctor immediately or better yet, the emergency room.
  • Shoulder dislocations and separations require attention from an orthopedic surgeon. If the shoulder heals improperly, the consequences can be dire, such as frozen shoulder syndrome.
  • If the muscles contract, the nerves near the spinal cord may be compressed or torn, causing a great deal of pain and even severely compromised mobility.

After an Accident, I always recommend going to a Chiropractor or Medical doctor that understands damages to the body due to accident type forces. If you take care of your body in time, you’ll feel the difference in the long run.