Nagging shoulder pain can be caused by a variety of conditions, such as arthritis, bursitis, or sprains. It can also be caused by rotator cuff injuries, which can range from rotator cuff tendonitis to more serious tears requiring surgery, medication, corticosteroid injections, and physical therapy. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons reports that close to two million people see physicians for rotator cuff problems every year, and many injuries occur at work.
The shoulder is the body’s most movable joint in the human body, and it has three bones; the humerus, scapula, and clavicle. It is a ball-and-socket joint, meaning that the ball on the top of the humerus fits into a socket in the shoulder blade. Rotator cuff tears can produce cracking or popping sensations when moving the arm or shoulder, or the sensation of the shoulder locking into place.
Other indications can include pain when lifting, throwing, or at rest, and a weakness of the hand and arm. These injuries do not always cause immediate pain and may also lead to inflammation in the bursa sacs.
Generally, rotator cuff injuries can result from chronic degeneration or acute injuries. Chronic cases can happen at any age but are more common in those over the age of 40. As people get older, the blood supply to the tendons may decrease, increasing the risk for tears. Athletes are also prone to rotator cuff tears if their routines include repetitive motions, such as weightlifting or rowing. Bone spurs can also develop near the rotator cuff, which can cause pain.
Acute cases can occur when a person falls onto an outstretched arm, lifts something that is too heavy or lifts it the wrong way, or experiences trauma, such as shoulder dislocation or a broken collarbone. Some of the most common occupations that puts employees at risk for torn rotator cuffs include decorating, carpentry, painters, assembly workers, and construction.
When treating rotator cuff injuries, doctors generally start with conservative methods, such as anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy. If the symptoms last longer than six to 12 months, if the tear is larger than three centimeters, or was caused by an acute injury, surgery may be recommended. The surgery will likely involve reattaching the tendon to back to the humerus, although there may be other options.
An employee who suffers a work-related rotator cuff injury may be entitled to benefits from their company’s Workers’ Compensation insurance. These injuries can be serious, leading to lengthy time off from work and medical expenses. It is essential to report the injury to management and have a medical exam as soon as possible, as these injuries can become worse if not treated.
An employee may not always be sure if a rotator cuff tear was caused by their job responsibilities, but it makes sense to explore the options with a full medical work-up. In some cases, employees may receive Workers’ Compensation benefits if their work duties worsened a pre-existing condition.
If your rotator cuff injury affected your work and personal life, reach out to the Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Gross & Kenny, LLP. We will review your case and fight for the benefits you deserve. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania. Complete our online form or call us at 267-589-0090 for a free consultation.
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