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How Some Shoulder and Chest Car Accident Injuries Can Be Fatal

Jason Reese


  • In some motor vehicle accidents, a victim’s body will feel a forceful blow, sometimes to the shoulders and chest. A sternoclavicular (SC) joint sprain can quickly become a serious injury if symptoms are failed to be recognized or diagnosed.
  • Although collarbone and breastbone injuries may differ in severity depending on the speed, size and force of impact, the damage to the joint that connects the arm to the body can be injured mildly or more seriously, can cut off a person’s airway, nerves, or arteries.
  • In addition, if a clavicle injury goes misdiagnosed or untreated, chronic pain and severe issues like osteoarthritis can develop.
  • To begin the diagnosis, treatment and the full recovery process this injury requires, it is important for victims to seek medical support and legal help as soon as possible.

Sternoclavicular Joint Sprain Could Be Fatal for Some Car Accident Victims

Sternoclavicular (SC) joint sprain is not as common as other injuries caused from motor vehicle accidents but can still be problematic when it does occur. Since the SC joint is located where the collarbone attaches to the chest wall and positioned very close to some of the body’s most critical organs, this painful sprain can actually cut off a person’s airway, arteries, and arm nerves and present an emergent situation in some extreme cases. Joints can be injured or stretched anteriorly into a mild sprain and fracture of the collarbone or posteriorly — backwards towards the spine or down into the chest.

  • Anterior Injury: The end of the clavicle is pushed forward, in front of the sternum (breastbone).
  • Posterior Injury: The end of the clavicle is pushed backward, behind the sternum and deep into the upper chest and impact breathing and blood flow.

A strong enough blow to either of these areas can require urgent medical attention and an accurate diagnosis before becoming a potentially deadly injury.

Don’t Ignore the Symptoms of Serious Joint Sprains

Additional injuries to the spine, head and neck can accompany a SC joint sprain and mask over an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. The most common symptom of the injury is moderate to intense pain where the clavicle meets the sternum. If the pain is overwhelming from just attempting to move, a fracture, dislocation or more serious condition may need to be treated.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recognizes the following signs and symptoms of SC joint sprains:

  • Swelling, bruising, or tenderness over the joint
  • A crunching or grinding sound when you try to move your arm
  • Limited range of motion in the arm
  • With an inflammatory condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis, you may have simultaneous pain in other joints in your body
  • With a joint infection, there may be redness over the joint and you may have fever, chills, or night sweats. If you experience any of the symptoms of a joint infection, it is important to seek medical attention right away.

Some SC joint sprains and related injuries can be treated without surgery while others will require reconstructive surgery to stabilize the joint. If misdiagnosed or not properly rehabilitated, osteoarthritis can slowly develop and the pain and stiffness it causes will worsen over time.

Indianapolis Car Accident and Medical Error Attorneys

If you or a loved one have sustained injuries as the result of someone else’s negligence behind the wheel of a vehicle or a medical professional failed to properly diagnose your injury, Wagner Reese can help. Don’t fight that battle alone, and instead focus on recovering. Wagner Reese can help you get the compensation you deserve to cover lost wages, medical bills, future care, and the pain and suffering you are experiencing as a result of a motor vehicle accident or medical error.

Complete the online form today and one of our attorneys will respond promptly. Call the law firm of Wagner Reese today at (888) 204-8440 for your FREE consultation.

Reference: Groh GI, Wirth MA. Management of traumatic sternoclavicular joint injuries. J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2011;19(1):1–7. Available at:


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