To avoid bodily damage, like rotator cuff injuries, you responsibly wear your seatbelt. The message of ‘buckle up or die’ is ingrained into your mind. You’ve seen the PSA commercials and even graphic videos that have taught you the importance of wearing a seatbelt.
You are in a car accident and your seatbelt prevents you from having a serious injury and even from death. Yes! Seat belts save lives. After recovering from the minor injuries of your accident, you discover that you have pain in your shoulder from the pressure that your seatbelt caused from keeping you from dismounting from your seat.
Those two injuries – along with whiplash – are one of the most common injuries sustained in a car accident. These injuries run the gamut from minor injuries to injuries that can cause chronic pain (from severe accidents such as tractor trailer).
The most common shoulder injuries caused by seat belt’s are: AC joint injury, Thoracic outlet syndrome and Impingement syndrome.
AC Joint Injury: Results in a separation of the bones between the collarbone and the shoulder. This injury occurs when the humerus bone in the arm is forcefully compressed by the seatbelt in an accident. AC Joint injuries often cause extreme pain, a decreased range of motion, and swelling around the shoulder girdle and the collarbone.
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome: This injury results in blood vessels being compressed in the shoulder, neck and arm.
Upon impact seat belts tighten and the body forcefully presses against the seatbelt, this can cause blood vessels to compress.
Extreme soreness, the inability to move arms, neck or the shoulder without pain are symptoms of this injury.
Impingement Syndrome: Car accidents often cause rotator cuff injuries that get worse over time. During a car accident, the seatbelt can cause the humerus bone to compress backwards.
This force causes damage to the rotator cuff. As a result the tendons around the rotator cuff can become irritated and inflamed. As the rotator cuff heals, it may thicken which causes chronic pain and a reduced range of motion.
AICA’s well-trained shoulder injury chiropractors can alleviate many of the symptoms associated with these injuries.