A torn rotator cuff can feel like a dull ache in your shoulder or sharp, intense pain that makes daily life unbearable. You might have torn your rotator cuff in a car accident, but the full extent of your injury isn’t always immediately apparent. Instead, your body might have released adrenaline in the crash’s aftermath—a natural defense against trauma that could mask the pain of soft tissue injuries.
Some soft tissue injury symptoms may not manifest for several days after the accident. However, if you’re feeling shoulder discomfort after your accident, you should visit your doctor right away to diagnose an injury and receive treatment.
What Is a Rotator Cuff?
The Mayo Clinic describes the rotator cuff as part of the soft tissue of the shoulder. It’s an essential part of your anatomy that affects your range of motion and ability to move your arm. You can hurt your rotator cuff through repetitive motion injuries (e.g., throwing a baseball) or severe trauma, such as the forces unleashed in a car crash.
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What Are Symptoms of a Torn Rotator Cuff?
The symptoms of a torn rotator cuff go beyond general muscle soreness or sensitivity to the area where your seatbelt tightened against your shoulder at the moment of impact in your accident. Some symptoms of a torn rotator cuff include:
- Acute pain or difficulty raising your arm
- Sudden weakness in the affected shoulder
- Feeling or hearing a popping or clicking sound when you move the affected arm
- Chronic pain in the shoulder that intensifies in the evening
- Lost range of motion
How Can You Tear Your Rotator Cuff in a Car Accident?
The three-point seatbelt has been a standard safety feature in modern cars for several decades. Its primary function is to restrict the forward movement of the passenger’s body and keep them from flying out of the vehicle. However, if you wear your seatbelt, it might save your life but could also injure you.
That’s because the seatbelt’s position over the passenger’s shoulder can cause severe trauma to the soft tissue in the shoulder. Generally, the faster the cars traveled during the accident, the more violently the body moved forward. This movement causes the seatbelt to tighten even further to restrain the passenger. That tightening of the seatbelt over a passenger’s shoulder can cause severe trauma that results in a torn rotator cuff.
How Do You Know if You Have a Torn Rotator Cuff?
You will want to see a medical professional as soon as possible after a car accident. During your visit, talk to them about your symptoms. Set up a second consultation if they persist in the days and weeks after your initial visit. Your healthcare professional may need an x-ray or other imaging tests to make a complete diagnosis.
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Do Torn Rotator Cuffs Heal Themselves?
Some rotator cuff tears heal with physical therapy and regular icing. However, others will not just “heal over time.” Instead, they require extensive medical attention to heal, such as steroid injections or shoulder surgery.
The longer you go without treating a torn rotator cuff, the more pronounced your symptoms may become. You can do severe, long-term damage to yourself by letting a torn rotator cuff go untreated for a prolonged period.
Is Treating a Torn Rotator Cuff Expensive?
It certainly can be. Treating torn rotator cuffs often involves surgery and physical therapy. During the run-up to surgery—and for some period afterward—you may be unable to work or enjoy other athletic activities (e.g., golf or baseball).
In addition, shoulder surgery typically costs thousands of dollars. Furthermore, if the injury causes you to miss work, your torn rotator cuff becomes a stiff one-two punch to your wallet.
You Could Receive Compensation After Tearing Your Rotator Cuff
It’s never fun to sustain an injury in an auto accident. In addition, a severe injury like a torn rotator cuff can become a real hardship for crash victims.
However, if the accident wasn’t your fault, you could hold the negligent driver accountable by demanding compensation for the cost of treating your torn rotator cuff. You can also demand compensation for any income you lost because the injury left you unable to work. Finally, you could recover damages for the pain and suffering the injury caused you.
Contact a Car Accident Injury for Your Torn Rotator Cuff Medical Bills
If you’d like to learn your options after tearing your rotator cuff in an auto accident, please get in touch with Laborde Earles Injury Lawyers today for a free consultation. We love helping good people maximize the compensation they deserve to turn their lives back around.