Soft tissue injuries are common in motorcycle accidents. One example is a tear of the lat (latissimus dorsi) muscle. Among motorcycle collisions, muscle injuries are common. This injury can be quite painful and can present a significant quality of life issue when it occurs.
The lat muscle is a large muscle that is shaped like a fan. It covers both the upper back and the side. There are two separate lat muscles present on the right and the left sides of the body. The muscle inserts at multiple locations along the thoracic, lumbar, and sacral spine. The muscle also inserts at the top of the humerus and at the bottom of the pelvis. Because of the size of the lat muscle, there are multiple locations that tears can occur. Furthermore, there are also associated injuries that can take place in a motorcycle accident.
Mechanism of a Lat Muscle Tear
Like other muscle injuries, the cause of a lat muscle tear is a combination of a direct blow to the area combined with overstretching of the muscle fibers. In a motorcycle accident, both of these can happen. If someone falls from the bike in a crash, the large lat muscle is an easy target for the pavement. This can lead to a tear of the lat muscle.
Overstretching of the lat muscle can also take place in a motorcycle collision. If riders slide along the pavement, their arm can catch on the ground while the rest of their body slides. This motion can stretch the lat muscle to the point of tearing.
The Symptoms of a Lat Muscle Injury
If someone has suffered a tear of the lat muscle, there are several symptoms that he or she may notice. Some of these include.
- Muscle cramping in the armpit region and back area.
- Pain that gets worse when the body rotates from side to side.
- Severe bruising along the side and back.
- Swelling of the armpit region and/or back area.
- Difficulty lifting objects and raising the arms over the head.
The degree of the tear is going to impact the severity of the symptoms. Some people may experience all of the symptoms described above, while others might only have one or two.
The Treatment of a Torn Lat Muscle
The treatment of a torn lat muscle can take many forms. Initially, conservative treatment is recommended. Muscle relaxants are used to relieve the cramping. Medications such as Motrin are used to alleviate the swelling.
If the symptoms fail to get better (or continue to worsen), imaging is typically used to grade the muscle tear. In many cases, the torn muscle will “ball” up because it has been released from its insertion point. This is easily seen on imaging scans. Once the injury is identified, surgery can be used to reattach the muscle.
After this, physical therapy is needed to strengthen the lat muscle. Several weeks after surgery, shoulder rotations can begin with the supervision of a trained physical therapist. Back exercises and torso rotations are typically next. Gradually, weights will be added to these exercises to strengthen the muscle. In most cases, individuals will be allowed to resume all activity, including sports, a few months after the operation.
Watch YouTube Video: Latissimus Dorsi – Stretching for Pain Relief and Rehabilitation. The following video demonstrates some stretching exercises to ease lat injuries.
Other Associated Injuries with a Lat Muscle Injury
Because of the size of the lat muscle, multiple associated injuries can be seen following a motorcycle accident. A torn lat muscle in the back can lead to related damage to the spinal column. This may place the spinal cord at risk.
A torn lat muscle on the side of the body can injure either the shoulder or the pelvis. If the lat muscle tears from the upper insertion, this places the shoulder socket and humerus at risk. A torn lat muscle at the lower end can damage the pelvis. As the lat muscle injury is assessed, these structures need to be examined as well.
Sacramento Motorcycle Accident Attorney
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento motorcycle accident attorney. A lat muscle tear is a painful injury that can occur in a motorcycle accident. If someone you care about has sustained a muscle tear in a motorcycle accident, please reach out to me today at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly legal advice.