What To Do Next After a Shoulder Injury From A Car Accident
You may never have been in a car accident before, but an accident can happen in a split second. Even a seemingly minor rear-end collision can cause serious harm. The human body is not meant to endure the shock of a violent impact. The most common injuries resulting from motor vehicle crashes affect the head, neck and shoulder. However, unless a shoulder injury from a car accident involves broken bones and therefore immediate pain, some symptoms might not appear until hours or even days later. How you respond to the crash may make a difference in your ability to heal. Therefore, the sooner you seek medical attention, the better.
Observing Red Flags
In addition to the impact itself, a tightening of the seat belt might be enough to cause a shoulder injury from a car accident. You may be able to walk away from a vehicle crash. Although, it is wise to pay attention to a stiff or tender shoulder; swelling, tingling or numbness in the area; discoloration or a limited range of motion.
Sustaining More Serious Injuries
Your shoulder is composed of the humerus, scapula and clavicle. Muscles, tendons and ligaments hold these bones in place. Common injuries to the shoulder during a vehicle crash include:
- Broken bones: If the bones remain in place, recovery time is shorter than if the bones move or shatter.
- SLAP lesions, or a superior labral tear from anterior to posterior: Despite the lengthy title, this is one of the most common shoulder injuries and refers to a tear that destabilizes tendons in the shoulder joint.
- Rotator cuff tear: A torn rotator cuff usually accompanies some other type of injury and means that tendons have become detached from the bones.
- Herniated disc: If the impact of the vehicle crash causes the discs in your spine to stretch or tear, the displaced discs can press on nearby nerves, causing pain to radiate through your shoulder and arm.
Going For Medical Help
Even if you are not concerned about any physical issues following a minor collision, you should not delay in seeing a doctor, as you could have underlying injuries. If you have muscle, tendon or nerve damage, nonsurgical treatment can begin at once. If you have a latent shoulder injury, early detection enables you to start treatment and keep down the medical expenses you might incur if you wait and allow the condition to worsen.
Remember that if you are in pain following a crash, you need immediate medical attention. X-rays and MRIs can reveal the location of any broken bones and you may require surgery.
Engaging in Physical Therapy Before Surgery
Depending on the type and severity of a shoulder injury, your doctor may recommend that you engage in a physical therapy regimen prior to surgery. This is called “pre-hab” and the goal is to develop a routine that improves your strength and hopefully enables a shorter postoperative recovery time.
Entering Physical Therapy After Surgery
After surgery, physical therapy is an essential part of the treatment plan. PT sessions may occur several times a week in the beginning and taper off to a once-weekly session depending on the level of improvement you attain. The sessions usually include stretching, strengthening exercises, and shoulder manipulation, especially after surgery to help in breaking up scar tissue. Your therapist may apply a combination of heat and ice as well as electrical stimulation to aid in improving mobility. You should also receive instructions about exercises you can do at home to aid in your recovery.
Anticipating Possible Long-Term Effects
Depending on the severity of the injury, the doctor may have to immobilize your shoulder and you might not be able to return to work for some time. You may also have to attend physical therapy for weeks, if not months, or continue treatment through chiropractic care. You may feel some shoulder pain from the car accident or discomfort from time to time even after you are released from PT. In a worst-case scenario, you may never regain full range of motion.
Using Medical Reports
It is important to seek prompt medical attention following any kind of vehicle crash, no matter how minor. With the shock of impact, the body instantly produces chemicals that mask pain temporarily. You may have underlying injuries that only an examination can uncover.
Another reason to see a doctor is the medical report they will issue describing your injury and the recommended treatment. This report ties your injury directly to the vehicle crash. When the time comes for you to file a claim for compensation to cover your medical expenses, lost wages and more, a medical report prevents the insurance company from asserting that your injuries occurred in some other way and at some other time.
Remembering to Gather Evidence
Any information you can put together about the vehicle crash helps when submitting a claim for compensation. When you are the victim of a crash, gather evidence at the scene if you are able to do so. Note details such as the weather conditions, the direction each vehicle was traveling and any site markers. Take down contact and insurance information from the other driver. As you begin treatment for your shoulder injury, keep records about your progress plus copies of any notes the doctor writes, reports from your physical therapist and receipts for prescriptions.
Work With An Experienced Local Lawyer
If you have sustained a shoulder injury from a car accident, financial compensation may well be in order. However, insurance companies are interested in their own bottom line and may try to talk you into a lowball settlement. The insurer might even try to deny your claim altogether. Keep in mind that you have a right to expect full and fair compensation for your injury. If you wish to file, you can rely on the assistance of an attorney experienced with insurance claim negotiations. Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!