Car Accidents Involving Shoulder Injuries
What is a Shoulder Dislocation?
A shoulder dislocation is a relatively common injury that results in the humerus separating from the scapula, or the shoulder blade. When this happens, the humerus loses contact with the ball and socket joint that normally contains it, called the glenohumeral joint.
Causes of a Shoulder Dislocation
Because the glenohumeral joint has the largest range of motion of any joint in the human body, it is prone to dislocation. One of the most common ways people suffer a shoulder dislocation is through a direct force from behind, leading to an anterior shoulder dislocation. In a car accident, the back of someone’s shoulder could be impacted by a blow from the side. This represents a major force that is more than enough to dislocate the shoulder. Sometimes, the dislocation can cause the car accident as well. Some car accidents result from people who have seizures behind the wheel. A seizure is a common cause of a posterior shoulder dislocation.
When someone suffers a shoulder dislocation, quick treatment is a necessity. The shoulder should be placed in a splint to immobilize the structure and relieve pain. Then, the physician will place the shoulder back in the socket; however, treatment doesn’t stop there. An x-ray is required to any fractures that might have resulted during the injury. Depending on the severity of the dislocation, pain medication may be required.
Shoulder Dislocation Complications
The most common injury that results from a shoulder dislocation is the development of bone fractures. The force associated with a shoulder dislocation is more than enough to fracture surrounding structures. If there are fractures, this increases the chance of blood vessel or nerve damage.
What Other Structures are at Risk?
There are several structures that are at risk. The clavicle, humerus, and scapula are all at risk of sustaining fractures. The brachial plexus is also prone to being damaged by a shoulder dislocation. The subclavian vessels can be damaged if the humerus shifts downward and ligates the blood vessels, leading to bleeding risk. The biceps tendons are also prone to damage because they attach at the humerus.
The differential diagnosis for shoulder injuries includes:
- AC Joint Sprain
- Clavicle Fracture
- Scapula Fracture
- Torn Labrum
- Shoulder Bursitis
- Rotator Cuff Injuries
Shoulder Dislocation Prognosis
Once the shoulder has been reduced, imaging is required to assess for other injuries. If there are no other injuries, the prognosis usually shows that people will regain full function of their shoulder; however, people should ease back on activity and remember that it is easier to dislocate the shoulder in the future. Rehabilitation after traumatic injuries can be helpful.
Surgical Indications of a Shoulder Dislocation
Someone who is younger and desires a return to competitive sports may elect to undergo surgery to ensure an optimal outcome. Surgery can decrease the chance of further dislocation by repairing the glenoid, labrum, ligaments around the cap, and any muscular damage.
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Sacramento Shoulder Dislocation Lawyer
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Shoulder Dislocation Lawyer. Car accidents can result in serious injuries. Anyone injured should call me at for friendly, free advice. Those from out of town can call my toll-free line at (800) 404-5400.
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