Shoulder Pain After a Car Accident

Shoulder injuries in a car accident are common. They are caused mostly by the jerking movements that occur in an accident and may be further aggravated by seat belt shoulder straps. Shoulder injuries may also be related to neck injuries. Understanding more about shoulder injuries will allow you to recognize them quickly and seek treatment to prevent further pain and problems.

There are various types of shoulder injuries which can cause shoulder pain due to a car accident. These include the following type of injuries:

fractures– cracks in one of three bones which comprise the shoulder
separation– the collarbone and shoulder blade separate
impingement– pain due to inflammation of the rotator cuff tendon which gets trapped under the acromion, which is the end of the collarbone
SLAP Tear– a tear in the cartilage of the shoulder joint which separates the cartilage from the bone of the shoulder joint
rotator cuff tear– the four shoulder muscles sustain a tear

The most common injury that we see in our office after a car accident are impingement and rotator cuff strain/tear. Both of these injuries can benefit from chiropractic care. We have seen many victims of car accidents with persistent shoulder pain who did not think of chiropractic for their shoulder pain. These patients have achieved great results with chiropractic care. Chiropractors specialize in and are trained to treat soft-tissue injuries, including the muscles in the shoulder.

Causes of Shoulder Injuries

In a car accident shoulder injuries can be caused in three main ways. The first is as a result of a neck injury. A neck injury can radiate pain down the arm due to nerves being injured. The injury to the neck will then cause problems in the shoulder.

The next cause is direct damage to the shoulder from impact during the crash. This may be caused by the seat belt, or the shoulder actually hitting the door or steering wheel. This causes immediate pain and is easily recognized.

The last cause is from whiplash. Whiplash is usually associated with the neck, but it can cause pain in the shoulders as well. It may not cause pain right away after the crash, but may develop over time.


Shoulder injuries are usually found through an x-ray or an MRI. Most shoulder injuries are not severe and are treated with rest and pain medication. However, pain medication only treats the symptoms, and not the injury to the muscles. Chiropractors are able to treat the muscles with electrical muscle stimulation and ultrasound therapy increasing healthy blood flow to the area, decreasing pain, and promoting healing. Additionally, adjustments to the shoulder may be performed to increase range of motion to the joint. X-ray will determine if the injuries are more severe, then surgery may be needed.

The earlier treatment is sought for a shoulder injury, the better. Early recognition of a shoulder injury and early treatment help to insure the problem is cared for correctly and prevents further damage from occurring. You should always make sure that any care you receive is documented and that you keep a copy for your records.

Since some injuries including shoulder injuries may not develop symptoms right away it is always smart to have a complete medical check following the accident. If you fail to get checked out and have your medical attention documented then you may not be able to recover damages later on if symptoms do appear.

You want to document everything about the accident so that any shoulder injury found in the future that can be linked to the accident can be claimed. If you are careful in how you handle an accident you should be able to make a claim against the other person for your shoulder injury.

Shoulder injuries from a car accident are usually not too severe, but they are severe enough to make you lose time at work and to rack up medical bills that can be costly. It is important that if you suffer from a shoulder injury resulting from a car accident that you report it to the insurance and make a claim so you can recover your costs.

If you have any questions, or would like to schedule a consultation, please contact us or you may visit our website.

If you found this article helpful, please hit share below for Facebook. We also welcome your comments below.

P.S. A Natural Pain Relieving Gel is a great natural alternative to OTC pain medication for relieving sore muscles and joints!

7 Responses to Shoulder Pain After a Car Accident
  1. her Website
    January 18, 2013 | 9:26 pm

    This is a topic which is near to my heart…
    Thank you! Where are your contact details though?

  2. wkliwanag
    January 22, 2013 | 8:07 am

    Thank you for visiting. Our contact details are under our contact us tab.
    Dr. Kirsten

  3. Chiropractor Denver Colorado
    July 14, 2013 | 4:31 am

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  4. Active Release Chiropractic Denver
    July 20, 2013 | 1:27 pm

    It’s actually a cool and helpful piece of info. I am glad that you simply shared this helpful information with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Philomena
    May 8, 2014 | 7:26 am

    I was in a crash the car wasnt damage but i was sitting in the middle in the back i went to hospital there and then i complaint with middle spine pain its two day and three nights since the crash and my right side of my neck and shoulder us pain full what i dont understand is that i had ct scan and x ray and checked by doctor and had no pain in my neck or shoulder but i have now

  6. wkliwanag
    June 20, 2014 | 1:11 pm

    The pain you are experiencing after a car accident is often caused by muscle spasm that is a result of injuries sustained during the accident. My suggestion to you would be to visit a chiropractor to have an exam performed to evaluate the cause of your pain. They will be able to offer you an appropriate treatment plan to allow your body to heal.

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