The shoulder is a ball and socket type joint. Its three main bones are the humerus, clavicle, and scapula. Most shoulder pain is often caused by injuries. Shoulder injuries can be caused by slip and falls where the arm is outstretched or gets twisted, or by a direct blow to the shoulder from something like an auto accident.
While some shoulder injuries are relatively minor like bruises/contusions or a separated shoulder, our office often deals with more serious shoulder injuries such as fractures (broken bones) and rotator cuff tears.
Many people never realize how much they use their hands and arms until they suffer an injury. In truth, humans use their hands for almost every aspect of daily life. Whether getting dressed, picking up a set of keys, typing at work, or even making dinner for your family, hands are vital to it all. When a victim sustains a shoulder injury, though, suddenly even the smallest movement of a hand or arm is excruciating if it is even possible. Many injuries leave victims with an inability to raise their arm above a certain height or to turn their arm from one side to the other. With this limited mobility, tasks that are normally automatic and easy can become difficult.
Another serious problem that often accompanies a shoulder injury is that it may limit the amount of weight a person can carry. Initially, this might not seem as important as the decrease in mobility, but it can be just as significant if not more so, depending on a victim’s personal and professional life. Parents and grandparents of small children may no longer be able to pick up the children and hold them. Grocery shopping may no longer be possible if a single grocery bad is too much to carry. Carrying laundry, unloading a dishwasher, or preparing food can all be problematic for the victim of a shoulder injury.
Shoulder injuries can occur in a number of different accidents. One of the most common ways to suffer a shoulder injury is though a slip and fall or a trip and fall incident where a victim either stumbles or slips on a surface and then falls to the ground. These accidents can be caused by ice or snow, rain water that is tracked inside of a store or other building, negligent mopping or other cleaning of a floor, broken or defective stairs, or even an improperly placed mat or rug. When a person begins to fall, it is human nature to attempt to break a fall by putting your arms and hands in front of your body so that your arms hit the ground first. This makes it less likely that your head or other vital organs will absorb the brunt of the impact and can reduce overall injuries. Unfortunately, though, when a falling person braces him or herself, shoulder injuries are common. The shoulder ends up taking most of the impact and the force generated can lead to fractured bones, a shoulder dislocation, or injuries to the soft tissues of the joint.
Another common cause of shoulder injuries we routinely see is automobile accidents. In auto accidents, shoulder injuries usually occur in one of two ways: either an object strikes the shoulder directly or the driver of a car tenses his or her grip on the steering wheel and the force of the impact to the car and driver’s body causes the damage. The first type of crash happens when one car collides into the side of another car and causes the side of the second car to indent, striking the passengers inside. We see the other type of accident most often in rear-end collisions where one car strikes the rear bumper of another. In that case, the driver of the front car may tighten his grip on the wheel and lock his arms and shoulders. The force of the collision, though, pushes the driver’s body forward and sometimes pushes the shoulder forward past its connection with the upper arm.
Some shoulder injuries heal relatively well and leave little to no long term damage. Others linger for years or for decades and some clients will be left with decreased use of their shoulder forever. Of all the shoulder injuries we see, one of the most common is a torn rotator cuff. A torn rotator cuff is damage to one or more of the four tendons in the shoulder joint and often surgery is needed to repair a torn rotator cuff. Symptoms of a rotator cuff tear can include shoulder pain, stiffness, swelling, difficulty raising or turning the arm, and/or a popping sound at the time of injury. If a doctor suspects a rotator cuff tear, he or she will usually order an imaging test such as an MRI or ultrasound to confirm the tear.
A large number of people who sustain shoulder injuries need physical therapy and rehabilitative care in additional to any treatment received by a medical doctor. This therapy is usually designed to help the victim return to a pre-injury state of function so that the patient can return to as many activities as possible. Other patients require steroid injections, shoulder reductions where a dislocated shoulder is placed back into its socket, or even surgery. If you have sustained a shoulder injury, you should seek any needed medical treatment so that you may have a chance of a full recovery.
When the negligence of another causes you to become injured, you may be able to bring a civil claim for your damages. Call us today and let us help you understand your legal rights and options.
If you have sustained a shoulder injury in an accident, request a Free Case Consultation or call (312) 924-7575 to speak with a lawyer now.