When dealing with car accident injuries, some people talk about how their shoulder blade hurts, often because of the strain of the seatbelt holding your body still, or from the impact of the airbag when it deploys. If the accident is forceful enough, it can even cause a shoulder dislocation injury.
Signs and Symptoms of a Shoulder Dislocation
Did you know that the shoulder is actually the most common place for a dislocation? That is because of how much range of motion your shoulder has and how much we use our shoulder joint in all that we do. If you have a shoulder dislocation, then you will likely also experience a lot of pain in and around your shoulder blade. You may also notice bruising and even swelling in the area. Sometimes a shoulder dislocation can even cause you to not be able to move your shoulder at all, and you might even be able to see that the joint is out of place. Other signs and symptoms of a shoulder dislocation include any weakness or numbness in your shoulder and arm, or tingling from your neck, through your shoulder, and down your arm.
Causes of Shoulder Dislocations
There are a number of reasons why you might suffer a dislocated shoulder. Car accidents can cause a shoulder dislocation because of the force of the impact and how your body is jostled and jolted around. The impact of the airbag or other object against your shoulder can cause a shoulder dislocation as well. Shoulder pain and dislocations are not uncommon among those who play sports, especially high-impact sports where you may risk falling, like gymnastics and skiing, or you may experience hard blows to the upper body, like in football and hockey. Bracing yourself with your arms during a hard fall can also cause a shoulder dislocation.
Types of Shoulder Dislocations
The shoulder has such a wide range of motion that there are many ways the shoulder can dislocate. The shoulder joint connects your upper arm bone through the shoulder socket, and an accident or injury can cause the top of your upper arm bone to pop out of the shoulder socket. Depending on the force of impact, your shoulder could dislocate going backward, forward, or even downward. The most common type of dislocation of the shoulder is called an anterior shoulder dislocation, and that refers to when your shoulder dislocates while going in a forward motion.
Immediate Care after an Accident
If you think you dislocated your shoulder in an accident, it is very important to try not to move your shoulder as much as possible until you are able to see a doctor. If possible, it is helpful if you can use a splint or sling to hold the shoulder in its current position and keep it from jostling around, which can cause more pain and potentially do more damage. When the joint dislocates, this doesn’t just affect the bones of the joint, but can also cause issues with your muscles, nerves, and even blood flow in the area. It can also be very helpful to ice the area as soon as possible. Ice helps to relieve some of the pain you might be feeling and also help swelling go down. These steps can help you take care of your shoulder injury as much as possible until you are able to get medical treatment from a doctor who can help diagnose and treat the dislocation.
Continued Care after Dislocating Your Shoulder
Your doctor may recommend continued care with a chiropractor or physical therapist after you experience a shoulder dislocation. Unfortunately, once you have experienced a shoulder dislocation you may actually be more likely to have your same shoulder dislocate in the future. Chiropractors and physical therapists can work with you throughout your treatment and recovery process, and can also help teach you ways to help prevent a shoulder dislocation in the future. The most likely way to prevent a shoulder dislocation, aside from taking precautions and wearing protective gear in high contact sports, is to keep your shoulders strong and flexible.
Your treatment team can help you learn exercises that will help strengthen your muscles that support your shoulder joint and that helps keep your shoulder flexible. The multi-specialty medical team at AICA Orthopedics can help diagnose and treat your shoulder dislocation right after your accident and will be with you all the way through the recovery process and beyond. Call us today!