Home / Blog / How Some Shoulder and Chest Car Accident Injuries Can Be Fatal


  • 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: