Securing a Settlement or Workers’ Compensation Payout for Rotator Cuff Injuries can be More Complex than It Seems
Rotator cuff injuries are more prominent than most people think. The rotator cuff attaches the shoulder to the humerus (upper arm bone), and it has four muscles: the subscapularis, the supraspinatus, the infraspinatus, and the teres minor. Injuries can range from mild to severe and frequently happen due to repetitive motion working at a job requiring movement and shoulder muscle strain. Whether you are a professional athlete, a weekend warrior, or somewhere in between, rotator cuff injuries can happen if the activities you are involved in require frequent overhead motion. Also, accidents can cause rotator cuff injuries.
Different Kinds of Rotator Cuff Injuries
The four muscles of the rotator cuff are held in place with a tendon that permits a great range of motion. It allows for movements like raising your hand over your head, throwing, and even hugging someone. The supraspinatus abducts the humerus and allows you to hold your arm straight while the teres minor and infraspinatus externally rotate the humerus. The subscapularis rotates the humerus internally.
The supraspinatus muscle is most commonly injured, whose tendons are susceptible to tears, impingement (pinching), and inflammation due to overuse. When the muscle is damaged, it cannot effectively stabilize the shoulder.
The most common shoulder injury is a rotator cuff tear. Tears in the shoulder muscles and tendons that connect to the scapula and collarbone can occur in 4 stages. Grade One is usually a minor tear and tendonitis, which can be treated with anti-inflammatory medicines, ice packs, and rest. A Grade Two is a minor partial thickness tear (less than 50% of the tissue is affected) and is treated as medium-level tendonitis, requiring more rest and treatment than the Grade One. A Grade Three tear is known as a hybrid partial thickness tear, where more than 50% of the tissue is torn. Grade Four is a complete rupturing of the muscles and usually requires surgery.
When the top of the shoulder blade presses on the tissue under it, it is an impingement. This injury becomes most evident when attempting to move the arm up and down from a vertical to a horizontal position. The tendons in the rotator cuff can be overworked and become inflamed, causing discomfort and weakness in the shoulder, while tendon tears can occur through traumatic injuries such as falling down a flight of stairs. Torn tendons can severely limit mobility and sometimes require surgery.
A dislocated shoulder is a common injury seen in sports or accidents. It occurs when the ball of the humerus comes out of its socket. A dislocation can be partial (subluxation) or complete (luxation), and even when fully healed, it can increase the chance of reccurring. Dislocations are intensely painful and require immediate medical attention.
Although not as frequent, shoulder fractures can be caused by a sudden impact, causing the clavicle, scapula, or humerus to break in one or more places. Surgery is usually required for this type of injury.
Coping with Rotator Cuff Injuries in Daily Routines
As the shoulder joint rotates so freely, injuries can make even the most mundane of daily tasks more difficult. Things such as lifting or carrying a child, walking your dog, cleaning, making your bed, or getting dressed can all cause pain when you are injured. Work in an environment where lifting, repetitive movements involving the shoulder, or anything that requires you to raise your arm. It may be impossible for you to work temporarily. Athletes can also experience setbacks in their practice due to a rotator cuff injury.
Perils of Rotator Cuff Injury During Sports Activities
Anytime an athlete must use the rotation of their shoulder to perform a task, they are at risk for a rotator cuff injury. Racquet sports, such as tennis, racquetball, and badminton, require strength to serve and return the ball. Serving especially uses a great deal of injury and force. Baseball players, mostly pitchers, use a repetitive throwing motion that can cause damage. Swimmers participate in a low-impact sport. But the repetitive overhead motion of strokes such as butterfly, backstroke, and freestyle lend themselves to pulls or tears known as swimmer’s shoulder. Quarterbacks are prone to shoulder issues due to the nature of play their position requires. They face abrupt, bone-crushing hits from the defense, and their repetitive arm motion to throw the ball can lead to injuries. Shoulder dislocation and rotator cuff tears are the most common problems.
Serving, spiking, and blocking in volleyball can lead to overuse and injuries. Volleyball players cannot play without using the full range of motion in their shoulders and arms. Basketball players use their shoulders to play defense, pass, and shoot. The repetitive action lends itself to injury.
There are many sports where play is aggressive and full contact, such as ice hockey, rugby, lacrosse, boxing, and wrestling, which can cause traumatic injuries to the rotator cuff due to harsh impact. Also, injuries experienced during play can require medical attention.
What Causes Rotator Cuff Injuries?
If you fall and put your arms out to minimize your injuries, your rotator cuff may be injured. In car accidents, serious injuries can ensue if a side collision or a forceful rear-end accident occurs. Motorcycle riders can get hurt if their shoulder hits the road or they are pinned under their motorcycle or another vehicle. Degenerative damage to the rotator cuff can occur in jobs that require heavy lifting, construction, or repetitive movements, like assembly line work.
Can a Rotator Cuff Injury be Grounds for a Personal Injury Case?
Traumatic shoulder injuries can occur when there is a car accident or motorcycle accident. Drivers frequently brace themselves against the steering wheel with their arms out in a reflexive attempt to protect themselves. Cyclists and pedestrians can also become injured when impacted by a careless driver, especially when they receive a side impact. Slips and falls can be the culprit of a shoulder injury as well. If you fall forward with your arms in front of you to buffer the impact against the floor, you could hurt your rotator cuff.
Dealing with Rotator Cuff Injuries in a Work Environment
There are two main categories of injuries in the workplace. One is caused by a repetitive shoulder movement that wears the rotator cuff over a long period, and the other is an injury caused by an accident. When dealing with a degenerative injury, it can be difficult to prove it is work-related, so you must report your injury to your superior and begin the workers’ compensation process immediately.
Treatment Techniques for Recovery from a Rotator Cuff Injury
The most effective treatment for this kind of injury is rest and a limited range of motion, such as using a sling. Any activity that causes pain must be avoided. Ice and anti-inflammatory medications can be helpful and reduce swelling. Physical therapy that includes strengthening your muscles and plenty of stretching is recommended. If these things do not improve the injury, steroid injections are an option. Cortisone mixed with a local anesthetic can help with severe pain and can be administered for up to 3 months. The most invasive solution is surgery. With improvements in technological surgical instruments, it is now possible to conduct the surgery arthroscopically, with three incisions less than a centimeter in diameter.
An Insightful Hamilton NJ Attorney at Our Firm Can Help Manage Your Claim for Rotator Cuff Injuries
Whether your rotator cuff injury is a personal injury or worker’s compensation case, you need a lawyer to help you obtain any settlement or paid expenses you are entitled to. The lawyers at Cohen and Riechelson work diligently to protect the rights of their clients and help them obtain fair remuneration for their injuries, and we are well-prepared to represent you in Lambertville, Ewing, Edison, Princeton, Robbinsville, Trenton, Titusville, Hamilton, and throughout Mercer, Burlington, and Middlesex County.
Injuries are more than painful. They are worrisome and debilitating, depending on the grade of the injury. You will probably need diagnostic tests such as X-rays and MRIs and may require physical therapy and even surgery. We have represented many clients in your situation and have the tools needed to help you.