Over 3 million people in the United States get injured in an auto accident each year. While these injuries are sometimes not fatal, they can result in some severe pain that leads to health issues. One of them is shoulder pain.
Common Types of Shoulder Injuries From Car Accidents
One of the common shoulder injuries from motor vehicle accidents that can cause shoulder pain is whiplash or neck strain. Pain often comes from whiplash, which might affect multiple areas in your neck. If you have whiplash, you might notice the adverse effects immediately, or sometimes the pain does not come on until a few days later.
After a car wreck, shoulder pain might also be due to a soft tissue injury or a torn rotator cuff. Soft tissue that can be damaged includes muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Meanwhile, a torn rotator cuff is due to a tear in the muscles surrounding the shoulder.
The shoulder can easily become dislocated due to the impact of a car accident. The dislocation could damage the muscles. If you do not have the condition treated, you might end up with a chronic condition, such as long-lasting pain.
It is not hard for the soft tissue to get damaged, even if it is not that severe. It is more common to suffer from a soft tissue injury than a bone injury. There is cartilage around the joint of the shoulder, and that can easily tear during an impact. The severity of the tear will determine what kind of treatment you will need, but physical therapy can help you regain your range of motion when healing. Physical therapy can also help alleviate the stiffness or pain in the area when moving around.
Types of Treatments for Shoulder Pain
It is best to place some ice on the area for 15 minutes to treat the injury initially. You can do that several times each day for a few days. You should ensure that you rest the site and keep an eye to see if it is getting worse. If you feel that it is getting worse, it might be best to talk to your healthcare provider about the best way to proceed. You might choose at some point to visit a physical therapist experienced in treating auto-related injuries for a specific treatment.
How Physical Therapists Treat Shoulder Pain
One of the more common kinds of injuries comes from rotator cuff injuries. The pain usually is on the outside of your shoulder or at the front. The pain may radiate down the arm, pinching when you move it. You might have trouble sleeping because of the pain, and lifting can be strenuous.
The good news is that PT care for shoulder pain is sufficient for these issues. A physical therapist has the training to properly exercise your joints and relieve the pain in the area. Plus, other techniques, such as stretching, massage, and electrical stimulation, may help with the injury.
Should I See A Physical Therapist?
No matter the cause of your shoulder pain, you may want to see a physical therapist for shoulder pain. The pain often happens after an accident because the ligaments, nerves, or tendons become irritated. Once your doctor has diagnosed the issue, you can start a physical therapy treatment plan. You may notice some relief after the initial PT visit, but you might need to have a series of physical therapy sessions. That way, you can help ensure you have the best chance of recovery, so you get back to living your life.
Getting injured in a car accident can be traumatic and costly. For instance, in 2017, it was estimated that the medical costs from these instances exceeded $75 billion. If you let your shoulder pain from a car accident persist, you might end up paying more in the long run while suffering from limited mobility and pain in your shoulder.
By: Dr. Terry McSweeney
Dr. McSweeney is certified in Manipulation Under Anesthesia and is a member of both the New Jersey Chiropractic Society and American Chiropractic Society; he is also a board member of the Mount Prospect Partnership and director of Mayor Quintana’s Health Program. Click here to learn more.