Rotator cuff tears are a common injury suffered in Chicago motor vehicle accidents.
Car accidents can cause a variety of injuries ranging from minor bruises to serious traumatic brain injuries. However, one common type of injury suffered in a car accident is a rotator cuff tear.
Rotator cuff tear occurs when the person uses his/her arm to brace for the impact of a collision. For example, the person may reach out to the dashboard to brace themselves before the accident.
Rotator cuff injuries may cause significant damage. Apart from causing severe pain, they can impact the person’s range of motion. More serious injuries can even lead to an ongoing disability.
The risk of rotator cuff tears increases with age. According to medical experts, the risk increases considerably each decade after the person reaches the age of 50.
What is a rotator cuff tear?
A rotator cuff tear can be partial or complete. A partial tear is the one that involves soft tissue damage, but the tendon does not get separated completely. On the other hand, as the name implies, a complete rotator cuff tear means the tendon has been torn completely.
In some cases, a rotator cuff tear is accompanied by other injuries including a fractured collar bone and or dislocated shoulder. While the symptoms of a rotator cuff tear may differ from person to person, some of the most common symptoms are:
- Snapping or crackling sensation with arm movement
- Weakness in the arm
- Inability to lift the arm
- Intense pain caused by lowering or lifting the arm
- Lying on the injured shoulder causes extreme discomfort
A rotator cuff tear or any other shoulder injury can significantly affect a person’s ability to perform daily activities including dressing and grooming themselves. Routine activities such as driving or working may become impossible. The injury may involve a long recovery period, and the person may have to be away from work for a long time.
Rotator Cuff Tear Treatment
Usually, non-invasive techniques are used in treatment of rotator cuff injuries. A minor rotator cuff tear is usually treated with rest, ice, pain medication and limiting activities. The doctor may use a sling to keep the injured shoulder stable. If the non-surgical techniques do not work, the patient may require surgical intervention. However, before resorting to surgery doctors normally try all other options including physical therapy and sometimes steroid injections that reduce inflammation in the injured shoulder. Exercise is also recommended to restore mobility and improve the range of motion.
If the rotator cuff is severe and the non-invasive treatment does not work, surgery may be the only option. Surgery is an effective treatment, but may not work in all cases. In some cases, patients still experience chronic pain and weakness in the shoulder.
Shoulder Injuries as a Result of a Car Accident
Shoulder injuries such as fractures, dislocations, and tears of the ligaments and tendons are a common result of car accidents. These injures can lead to permanent loss of mobility, which makes living a normal, daily life difficult. In addition, a car accident victim may wonder who will pay for the medical expenses.
Anatomy of the Shoulder
A shoulder is composed of three parts – the humerus, the clavicle, and the scapula. The shoulder is a simple ball and socket joint where the different parts work in conjunction through the acromioclavicular joint inside the clavicle. The bones are connected by tendons and ligaments.
The shoulder has the most flexibility in the body through a wider range of motion that other joints do not have – reaching up, down, and side to side. Because of this flexibility, there is a higher probability of suffering an injury to the shoulder.
Shoulder Injuries Caused by Trauma
When there is an injury to the shoulder, it is either a fracture to one of the bones in the shoulder region or there are tears of the ligaments or tendons, sometimes both. In many cases, shoulder fracture is accompanied by tears of connective muscle fibers.
- Torn rotator cuff – The tendons around the scapula make up a ring that keeps the arm bone in the shoulder socket. Tears to these tendons usually occur when a person tries to break a fall, when a person tries to brace themselves in a car accident, or when the body is tense before an accident.
- Broken collar bone – A clavicle bone is extremely thin when compared to other bones in the body and can easily be fractured in a car crash or when hit by a blunt object.
- Nerve injuries – The number of tissues in the shoulder have several nerve endings that can lead to major pain and numbness if they are damaged.
Treatment for Shoulder Injuries
A shoulder injury can cause immense pain, and the person will likely have bruises, stiffness, a numbing sensation down the arm, and may have trouble lifting the arm. Fractures are discovered by X-ray while the tears of the muscle fibers (tendons, ligaments) are found by Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).
The treatment for serious shoulder injuries may include surgery and physical therapy. Minor injuries, such as small tears, may only require an arthoscopic surgery using small incisions.
Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyers
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by another person and you have suffered a rotator cuff tear, then you can claim compensation for medical expenses and wage loss from the other party with the help of an experienced Chicago car accident attorney.