Pain in your shoulder after a crash is not something to ignore. Your shoulder is a crowded area with bones, soft tissues, nerves, blood vessels, and three joints that make it possible for you to use your arm. An untreated injury can create problems for the rest of your life.

How Motor Vehicle Accidents Can Cause Shoulder Injuries

Three main categories of shoulder injuries could be the result of an accident.


The impact of a high-speed crash can fracture your shoulder blade (scapula) or collarbone (clavicle). Car accidents are one of the most frequent causes of these fractures. It usually takes a high-energy blow to the chest or surrounding areas to fracture these bones.


The sudden jerking or twisting motions of your body during a wreck can dislocate your shoulder in any of the three joints: the collarbone joint (acromioclavicular joint); the sternoclavicular joint that connects your collarbone and sternum (breastbone); and the ball and socket joint of the shoulder (glenohumeral joint).

Soft-Tissue Injury

Problems with your rotator cuff or labral tears can happen when you are injured in a car accident. These injuries can damage the tendons, ligaments, muscles, and joint capsule.

What to Expect at the Doctor’s Office

Pain in the shoulder can be worrisome because you cannot see the problem inside your shoulder. Your doctor can learn significant information from the physical examination. Your physician might take these steps during the exam:

  • Instruct you to move your arm into various positions
  • Look at the arm, shoulder, chest, neck, and back for bruising, lacerations, etc.
  • Touch areas to check for pain
  • Ask you where your shoulder and arm hurt

Do not be surprised if your doctor orders imaging studies, like X-rays, CAT or CT scans, or an MRI to get a better look at what is happening inside of your shoulder and the surrounding areas. She needs to see the detail of the injury to determine whether she will have to perform surgery to repair the damage.

Pain and Shoulder Injuries from Car Accidents

Whether you have a fracture, dislocation, or soft tissue injury, shoulder damage can cause severe pain. Your treatment might increase this discomfort, at least temporarily. For example, your doctor might have to repair a compound fracture surgically, using plates, screws, rods or pins. If you do not require surgery, you will likely have to wear a sling or shoulder immobilizer. Using rounds of ice treatments and pain medications is common.

What to Expect After a Shoulder injury

People seldom bounce back quickly after a shoulder injury from a wreck. Young people with minor damage can experience improvement after a month or two, but even then, they will likely have to undergo a program of physical therapy. More severe harm to the shoulder can impair the shoulder and arm for months or longer. There is usually a period of immobilizing the arm and shoulder, and then a course of rehabilitation.

The goal of treatment and rehabilitation of a shoulder injury from a car crash is to decrease stiffness, restore muscle strength, and increase the range of motion. When a person does not experience a complete recuperation, the resulting impairment can make it challenging to maintain gainful employment and take care of one’s self in areas like bathing, dressing, and eating.

Contact a Lawyer for Help After a Should Injury From a Car Accident

If you are experiencing shoulder pain after a car accident, first get medical attention, and then call the Montero Law Center at 954-767-6500.

We can evaluate your case for free and help you pursue compensation for your economic and noneconomic damages.