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Severe Shoulder And Elbow Injuries Resulting From A Rear-End Collision

R.G. maintained a lucrative and satisfying career as an account manager with a major telecommunications company. She was happily married and was close to her friends and family, especially her grandson.

One Friday evening, R.G. was traveling northbound near her home. As she was slowing down for a red light, the vehicle behind her failed to brake and struck her car from behind. Upon evaluating the scene, the responding officer issued a ticket for Following Too Closely to the driver who had rear-ended her. R.G. experienced some pain at the scene of the wreck, but she was examined at the scene and released.

The next day, R.G. presented to the Emergency Room and complained of neck, left shoulder, left elbow, and left wrist pain. The doctor also noted tenderness along her neck and left wrist. X-rays of her cervical spine, left shoulder, left elbow, and left wrist were taken. Her left arm was placed in a splint, and her left shoulder was fitted into a shoulder immobilizer.

Two days later, R.G. sought further examination from an orthopedist. She had complaints of pain in her left side that included her neck, shoulder, elbow, and wrist. X-rays of her left elbow were taken and the orthopedic doctor diagnosed her with a closed fracture of the left radial head of her elbow. The doctor advised her to avoid lifting, continue to use the sling provided by hospital, and to return in three weeks; however, R.G. returned two days later with complaints of continued pain. Further examination revealed pain with gripping. She was referred to physical therapy.

Five days later, R.G. arrived for her physical therapy appointment, where the initial evaluation revealed decreased range of motion in her left elbow and decreased grip strength in her left arm. Over the time span of five months, R.G. attended her physical therapy sessions regularly that included moist heat application, fluidotherapy, therapeutic exercise, manual therapy, and cervical mechanical traction.

Six days after her initial physical therapy evaluation, R.G. returned to the orthopedist facility complaining of increased pain in her left elbow and cervical spine. Upon examination, the doctor found that she experienced tenderness throughout her cervical spine and pain with flexion and extension of her left elbow. She was diagnosed with a cervical strain. She was instructed to modify her daily activity and continue with her physical therapy.

About a month later, R.G. returned to the orthopedist for a follow-up appointment, where she complained of continued pain in her neck and left elbow. She expressed that she felt radiating pain down her left arm and elbow when she moved her neck. She was referred for an MRI to be performed on her cervical spine, which took place ten days later. The doctor diagnosed her with left cervical radiculitis and left shoulder pain.

Following her continued physical therapy, R.G. presented for a follow-up appointment with the MRI doctor about six weeks later. She reported experiencing decreased pain due to physical therapy, and the doctor advised her to further continue physical therapy, but return to him in a month if her pain continued for an epidural steroid injection.

Ten days following her appointment with the MRI doctor, R.G. consulted with a spine specialist, who noted her minimal cervical pain improvement with physical therapy as well as her diagnoses of cervical radiculitis and cervical disc displacement. R.G. complained of significant pain in her left shoulder that radiated into her left arm and caused subsequent numbness in the middle finger of her left hand. The doctor gave her an epidural steroid injection at C7-T1 and advised her to follow-up with the orthopedist.

About two weeks later, R.G. followed up with her orthopedist and relayed that she was experiencing worsening pain in her left shoulder and cervical spine. The doctor noted possible left rotator cuff syndrome and performed a depomedrol injection in her left shoulder. He advised R.G. to continue her home exercises from physical therapy and return for a follow up visit.

Three and a half weeks later, R.G. returned to the orthopedist doctor and reported feeling better after the shoulder injection during her last visit. The doctor administered an injection in her left shoulder and left elbow, and he diagnosed her with tennis elbow and impingement syndrome. She was referred to have another MRI performed and was given home exercises to implement in the meantime. The orthopedist doctor diagnosed her with impingement syndrome and rotator cuff syndrome three days following her MRI. He advised her to continue physical therapy and home exercises.

R.G. presented to a physical therapy appointment eight days later and complained of pain in her left bicep with decreased grip strength. Three weeks later, she followed up with her orthopedist and complained of continued pain in her neck, left shoulder, and left elbow. She was instructed to continue physical therapy and home exercises. At her last two physical therapy appointments, she was advised to continue home exercises and return to the orthopedist for cortisone injections in her shoulder.

Over the next two years, R.G. continued to struggle with pain, range of motion, and strength in her left shoulder, left bicep, left elbow, left wrist, and cervical spine. Through the course of numerous diagnostic tests, she was faced with the recommendation of surgery on her left elbow for torn tendons, and on her left shoulder to rectify the tear in her rotator cuff.

R.G. inevitably required additional surgeries following the first two. We filed a suit on behalf of her case to recover money for her medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. We ultimately resolved R.G.’s case in the amount of $600,000.

Today, R.G. still has minor trouble with her left elbow and occasional left shoulder pain, but has made a near-complete recovery, and she is able to enjoy playing with her grandson again and returning to work with much less pain.