Shoulder Pain After a Car Accident: What Does it Mean? 

You may be surprised to learn that shoulder injuries and whiplash are some of the most common challenges after a car accident. If you are the driver and have your hands on the wheels at the time of the crash, the sudden force created by the accident can lead to a torn rotator cuff. Your shoulder is one of the most complex parts of your body and comprises a collection of bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. 

The rotator cuff is a ball and socket joint made up of three bones: your arm bone (the humerus), your shoulder blade (the scapula), and your collarbone (the clavicle). The supporting muscles, ligaments, and tendons are designed to help you lift and rotate your arm. Your shoulder is one of your body’s most dynamic and unstable joints. It’s hard to ignore a torn rotator cuff because…it hurts! Signs of a tear include shoulder pain when lifting your arm, weakness, pain when lying down, or a limited range of motion. 

  • Shoulder impingement has been estimated to occur in up to 10% of people involved in car accidents 
  • The shoulder is one of the most complex, dynamic, and unstable joints in the body, with a complex network of bones, ligaments, and muscles
  • The risk of neck or shoulder pain seven years after a collision was three times higher for patients with initial whiplash injuries than those without 

Ignoring a shoulder injury after a car accident is not a good idea. Your shoulder is designed to move, and if you try to “let it heal” by not moving it, you’re putting yourself at risk for a frozen shoulder. Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, is when your shoulder develops adhesions due to lack of movement. This can result in severe pain that takes months to heal. If you have shoulder pain after an accident, time is of the essence! Our team is here and can provide a complete evaluation and treatment plan for you to get moving safely and heal quickly. 

Science Source

The Effectiveness of Conservative Management for Acute Whiplash Associated Disorder (WAD) II: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomised Controlled Trials.PLoS One. 2015

Biomechanics of whiplash injury. Chinese Journal of Traumatology. 2009

Ligament Injury and Healing: A Review of Current Clinical Diagnostics and Therapeutics. The Open Rehabilitation Journal. 2013

The association between exposure to a rear-end collision and future neck or shoulder pain: a cohort study. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology. 2000

Subacromial impingement in patients with whiplash injury to the cervical spine. Journal of Orthopedic Surgery and Research. 2008