The shoulder is an amazing, complex part of our bodies that allows us to accomplish everything from everyday tasks to feats of great strength and agility. Consisting of three bones, four joints, and about 20 supporting muscles—as well as a criss-cross of tendons and ligaments—it’s by far the most flexible joint in the human body, boasting 360 degrees of rotation across several different planes. More specifically, it allows abduction, adduction, flexion, extension, and internal and external rotation, not only giving us the ability to survive and thrive as a species, but also the ability to live a full life, such as creating art, playing sports, and maintaining active mobility.
In Washington pedestrian accidents, shoulder injuries are quite common, and often require extensive time, resources, and expertise to heal properly. If you sustain an acute shoulder injury in a collision with a car, it’s vital that you have the issue diagnosed and treated as quickly as possible in order to secure the best long-term medical outcome.
It’s also imperative to understand that, if the accident wasn’t your fault, any medical assistance you may need associated with it should be paid for by the at-fault party or parties.
Below, learn about how shoulder injuries due to pedestrian accidents happen, the most common types, and what your rights are to seek economic and non-economic damages.
How Pedestrian Shoulder Injuries Happen
The human body is incredibly resilient, but it can be seriously damaged in accidents. When a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle, their shoulders are likely to sustain at least some of the impact, either when an individual is initially struck, when they’re thrown onto a vehicle’s windshield, or when they hit the ground. Additionally, when a person uses their hands and arms to protect or block the rest of their body from injury, they could sustain a serious force, which in turn can damage the shoulders.
About 27 percent of pedestrian accidents involve an injury to the upper extremities, which include the hands, arms, and shoulders.
10 Common Pedestrian Accident Shoulder Injuries
While there are dozens of shoulder injuries that could be sustained in a pedestrian accident, some are much more common than others. Most shoulder injuries, though, cause pain, trauma, and long-term medical needs for injury victims.
Rotator Cuff Tears
These injuries often result from the forceful impact of a vehicle, leading to pain, weakness, and limited range of motion. Rotator cuff tears involve damage to the group of tendons and muscles that stabilize the shoulder joint. Some tears may require surgery, physical therapy, or both.
Pedestrians may suffer shoulder fractures, such as clavicle (collarbone) or humerus (upper arm bone) fractures, upon impact with a vehicle. Fractures cause intense pain, swelling, and difficulty in using the affected arm and need immediate medical attention as well as a thorough treatment plan.
Frequently the result of a severe impact collision, this injury occurs when the humerus pops out of its socket and causes significant pain, instability, and limited shoulder movement. Dislocating a shoulder also comes with tendon, ligament, and soft tissue damage, and can make you more susceptible to future instability and other related problems.
AC Joint Injuries
Injuries to the acromioclavicular (AC) joint, located at the top of the shoulder, happen during pedestrian accidents, too. These injuries, commonly known as AC joint separations or sprains, lead to shoulder pain and limited mobility. Treatment for AC joint injuries ranges from rest, ice, and a sling to extensive surgery.
Brachial Plexus Injuries
The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that control shoulder, arm, and hand movements. Pedestrian accident shoulder injuries cause stretching or tearing of these nerves. Brachial plexus injuries are the source of severe pain, weakness, numbness, and loss of function in the affected arm and hand. While mild injuries sometimes heal on their own, more severe cases require surgery to remove scar tissue and repair the nerves.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Pedestrian accidents cause various soft tissue injuries in the shoulder region, including bruises, strains, and contusions. These conditions often result in pain, swelling, and temporary loss of function.
Tendinitis or Bursitis
Pedestrians involved in motor vehicle accidents may develop tendinitis (inflammation of tendons) or bursitis (inflammation of fluid-filled sacs) in the shoulder. These conditions, which may become chronic if not treated promptly, can cause pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion.
Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis)
Sometimes, shoulder injuries from these accidents lead to a condition known as “frozen shoulder”, where the joint's capsule thickens and tightens. It causes pain and severely restricted shoulder movement.
Nerve Compression Syndrome
The most common nerve compression issue after a pedestrian accident shoulder injury is thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS), where nerves are compacted between the collarbone and rib cage. TOS symptoms include pain, numbness, and weakness in the shoulder and arm. These injuries often affect a person’s ability to work or lower their overall quality of life.
Severe shoulder injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents can lead to post-traumatic arthritis over time. This condition causes chronic pain, joint stiffness, and reduced mobility in the shoulder. While it can be controlled through medication, it might also last a lifetime.
What to Do if You Sustain a Shoulder Injury in a Pedestrian Accident
Shoulder injuries can be especially difficult to diagnose in the direct wake of a Kirkland pedestrian accident. It’s much easier to see cuts and scrapes, immediately painful medical issues, or worry about a concussion or traumatic brain injury. A shoulder injury could fly under the radar for hours, days, or even weeks, and you may not notice a problem until your shoulder develops nagging pain or limited range of motion, or if you have difficulty sleeping on the injured area.
For this reason, it’s all the more important to get to a doctor directly after a pedestrian accident so a doctor can give you a thorough examination. Additionally, if you notice a shoulder issue after you return home and feel like you’re recovering, return to your physician right away and report it.
Once an issue is diagnosed, following your doctor’s orders to the letter is the best way to promote recovery. Many shoulder injuries require time with a physical therapist, a series of exercises to re-establish strength and range of motion, and a lot of rest.
The Consequences of a Shoulder Injury
It’s hard to know how much our shoulders do for us every day until something happens to one of them. They have an important role not only in helping us move through the world, but also in performing everyday tasks and work abilities, taking care of family, and enjoying our favorite activities. Shoulder problems can often even deeply affect your quality of sleep.
A shoulder injury—even one that doesn’t require major surgery—can be costly in many different ways:
- Medical bills, which can include surgery, medications, rehabilitation, and physical therapy
- Future medical bills, for injuries like tendonitis and post-traumatic arthritis
- Lost wages, because even people with office jobs can be sidelined by serious shoulder injuries, sometimes for an extended period of time
- Pain and suffering, which is frequent in acute shoulder injuries
- Loss of quality of life, for permanent shoulder injuries and disabilities
It’s your right under the law to recover monetary damages for these losses if someone else was at fault for your accident and injuries. The skilled professionals at Max Meyers Law will walk you through the process one step at a time, collecting evidence, calculating your damages, and getting the justice you deserve.