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shoulder injuries caused by trauma

Shoulder Injuries Caused By Trauma

Human shoulders are the stuff of metaphor and myth. Think “giving someone the cold shoulder” or Atlas holding up the world on his. But in real life your shoulders can be injured, often severely, in a car accident or slip-and-fall. These injuries are often extremely painful and, even with proper medical intervention, may take weeks or months to heal. Some will also require surgery. This post describes the tissues that make up the shoulder joint and some of the more common injuries from trauma.
*Obligatory Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, have taken no medical courses, and am not qualified to diagnose, identify, or treat shoulder injuries. In other words, I don’t create medical records, I just read a lot of them. If you suspect you have a shoulder injury, please seek medical attention from a qualified doctor or healthcare provider.

Anatomy Of The Shoulder

Your shoulder is the joint at which the humerus (your uppermost arm bone), scapula (shoulder blade) and clavicle (collarbone) all connect. Ligaments (bone to bone connectors) and tendons (bone to muscle connectors) hold everything in place. Much like the long leg bone (femur) and hip joint, the humerus's upper end is shaped like a ball. It fits into a socket in the scapula. Each shoulder is held in place by a group of four muscles and tendons. These make up the so-called rotator cuff, which allows you to raise and lower your arm. Each shoulder joint is cushioned and protected by the bursa, a sac filled with fluid.

Common Shoulder Injuries

Here are some of the shoulder injuries most often associated with a fall, a hard blow or other similar trauma:

  • Dislocation. If your shoulder is pushed too far backward or over-rotated the ball at the end of the humerus my come out of its socket in the scapula. If this happens, there will be pain and weakness in the shoulder. The dislocation will likely also cause swelling, numbness and immediate discoloration or bruising.
  • Separation. This injury occurs at the joint at which your collarbone and shoulder blade come together. In scientific anatomical terms this is known as the acromioclavicular joint. A fall on or other sudden contact with a hard surface (such as the inside of a car door or a hard floor) can tear the ligaments holding it together. If your clavicle is pushed out of its normal position, you could experience significant pain and swelling, along with a noticeable lump on your shoulder.
  • Bone Fracture. One or more of the bones in your shoulder can be broken if you fall or otherwise suffer a hard blow. The most common breaks are to the clavicle and the humerus. You’ll have a great deal of pain and most likely significant swelling and bruising. If your collarbone breaks, your shoulder can droop. You also may be unable to lift your arm.
  • Cartilage Tears. Cartilage is the spongy padding that separates and cushions bones where they contact each other. You can tear this material in a fall or other contact with a hard surface or when there's any other impact to your shoulder. You might feel pain when you try to reach over your head, and your shoulder may seem weak. It might also feel like it’s grinding or catching.
  • Frozen Shoulder. This condition occurs when abnormal bands of tissue called “adhesions” build up. This can happen because trauma has made it painful to move your shoulder, allowing adhesions to develop.
  • Impingement. This condition occurs when the tendons in the rotator cuff become caught between bones of the shoulder. It can cause significant swelling and pain when you try to move your arm.
  • Bursitis The bursa can become swollen and irritated. This condition is known as bursitis and may be caused by a fall or other trauma.
  • Tendinitis. This condition is the result of inflammation of the tendons in your rotator cuff. This can happen over time, but may also result from a fall or other trauma.
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries. As noted above, your rotator cuff holds your shoulder joint together and allows you to lift your arm. Although some wear is natural part of the aging process, you can also damage these in a fall or a sudden jerking motion. If your rotator cuff is injured, you'll experience pain, especially when you try to lift something heavy.

Do Not Ignore Shoulder Injuries

It can be tempting to “tough out” a shoulder injury, and some do heal on their own. However, it's always a good idea to consult a medical professional if your shoulder is injured in a fall or car accident. Once you've been treated, you should also consider contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer. If your injury was the result of someone else's negligence, it may be possible to get compensation for your medical expenses as well as your pain and suffering. Call the Anna L. Burr Law Firm at 720-500-2076 for a free no-obligation consultation.

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Law Office of Anna L. Burr

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Law Office of Anna L. Burr
2851 S. Parker Road
Suite 438
Aurora, CO 80014


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Phone: 720-500-2076
Fax: 720-729-8866