• Ryan Yorke, DC (Canada)

Shoulder Pain After a Car Accident: What Does it Mean?


It may surprise you to learn that shoulder injuries, like whiplash injuries, are some of the most common challenges people face after a car accident.


If you’re driving and have your hands on the steering wheel at the time of an accident, the sudden forces created by the event can result in a torn rotator cuff.

A Torn Rotator Cuff


Your shoulder is one of the most dynamic and unstable joints in your body and one of the most complex parts. It’s made up of a collection of bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles.


The rotator cuff in your shoulder is a ball and socket joint made up of three bones: your arm bone (the humerus), your shoulder blade (the scapula), and your collarbone (the clavicle).


The supporting muscles, ligaments, and tendons in your shoulder are designed to help you lift and rotate your arm.


It's hard to ignore a torn rotator cuff because…it hurts! Signs of a tear include shoulder pain when lifting your arm, weakness, pain when lying down, or a limited range of motion.


Did you know…


  • Shoulder impingement has been estimated to occur in 10% of people involved in car accidents.

  • The risk of neck or shoulder pain 7 years after a collision was 3 times higher for people who suffered whiplash injuries.

Avoid Frozen Shoulder


Ignoring a shoulder injury after a car accident is not a good idea.


Your shoulder is designed to move, and if you try to "let it heal" by not moving it, you're putting yourself at risk for a frozen shoulder.


Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) results from adhesions that develop in the shoulder due to lack of movement. It can cause severe pain and takes months to heal.


Needless to say, if you experience shoulder pain after an accident, time is of the essence!


Our team is here and can provide a complete evaluation and treatment plan for you to get moving safely and heal quickly. Just give us a call.


Science Source(s):


The Association Between Exposure to a Rear-end Collision and Future Neck or Shoulder Pain: a Cohort Study. JCE. 2000.


Subacromial Impingement in Patients with Whiplash Injury to the Cervical Spine. JOSR. 2008.

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