Most of us first hear about rotator cuff tears when our favorite pitcher is put on the disabled list for the rest of the season. We know the injury is a shoulder issue, but we often aren’t sure of the details. At Schweickert & Ganassin LLP, our workers’ compensation attorneys know the effect these injuries can have on workers.
It’s often not until we ourselves suffer the injury that we learn a rotator cuff is a cluster of muscles and tendons surrounding the shoulder joint that keeps the top part of the arm bone tucked firmly within the socket of the shoulder.
The rotator cuff can be torn in a single accident. But it can also be torn through progressive wear and tear of the tendons due to repetitive arm use, often in those who engage eight hours a day in overhead activity or heavy lifting. Carpenters and painters know what baseball pitchers know: rotator cuff injuries hurt, delivering a dull deep pain in the shoulder that feels like a bad toothache. If you need your shoulders for work, this could be a problem.
There are two kinds of tears. One is a partial tear when the tendon that protects the top of your shoulder is frayed or damaged. The other is a complete tear. That means the injury rips the tendon from the bone. No rotator cuff tear is the same. But a complete tear almost always requires surgery. Recovery time typically includes six weeks in a sling, then physical therapy.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF ROTATOR CUFF INJURIES?
Early symptoms of shoulder problems vary, but include:
- A sudden tearing sensation
- Trouble raising your arm
- Inability to lift things that you normally can
- Clicking or popping when you move your arm
- Pain when you move your arm in a certain way, or lie on it
- Shoulder pain that interrupts your sleep
SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION, EVEN IF YOUR SHOULDER PAIN SEEMS MINOR
A doctor will check your range of motion and muscle strength. You will also be tested to see what movements make your shoulder hurt. X-rays might be taken to see if the top of your arm bone is crowding into your rotator cuff space.
Consult a doctor as soon as possible if you have immediate weakness in your arm after an injury. Without treatment, rotator cuff injuries may lead to permanent loss of motion or weakness, or to steady degeneration of the shoulder joint.
“Any time your arms are raised up over your head strains the rotator cuff,” says Doctor Jocelyn Wittstein of Duke University. A prescribed program of stretching is often considered a way to help prevent shoulder problems.
If you have injured your shoulder at work, Schweickert & Ganassin LLP can help you with your claim. While you focus on your recovery, our Northern Illinois workers’ compensation attorneys will be working for you. To learn more, contact us to schedule a free case evaluation.