A rotator cuff injury is one of the risks of working in certain jobs. Perhaps you work in construction or as a painter. Maybe you're a carpenter or a window cleaner. It's not uncommon for people working in these types of jobs to injure their rotator cuff. In some cases, a rotator cuff tear happens due to repeating the same task on the job.
Unfortunately, some people don't take these types of repetitive stress injuries seriously. They may try to tough it out, hoping it will heal in a few weeks. However, it's important for people working in jobs that require physical exertion with their arms to understand the serious nature of a rotator cuff tear. Without treatment, a rotator cuff injury can turn into a "frozen shoulder" or arthritis.
What is a rotator cuff tear and what are the symptoms?
According to the Mayo Clinic, the group of muscles and tendons surrounding the shoulder joint is known as the rotator cuff, which allows you to lift and rotate your arms. An injury may either come in the form of a partial or complete tear. If the tendon is frayed or damaged, it's considered partial. If the tendon is torn or pulled off the bone, it's considered a complete tear.
The following symptoms may appear after an injury, according to WebMD:
- Difficulty raising an arm
- Experiencing pain when moving the arm or lying on it
- A weak feeling in the shoulder
- Being unable to pick up items in a normal fashion
- Clicking or popping sounds when moving the arm
Why you need to seek medical attention
If you experience any of these symptoms after an injury at work, don't ignore them. See a doctor right away. The injury could get worse if left untreated.
Your doctor may order an MRI, which is a test that uses a computer to make images of your shoulder. The doctor may also may order X-rays to look at your bones or an ultrasound to examine the soft tissues in your shoulder.
If the doctor determines you have a rotator cuff tear, you likely will need to undergo physical therapy. You also may need to take acetaminophen (Tylenol) or other anti-inflammatory medications. In some cases, surgery is necessary.
If you need surgery, you will need time to recover. Typically, people who undergo surgery need to wear a sling for four to six weeks. Depending on the severity of the tear, full recovery may take up to a full year.
You likely will need to take time off from work to allow your injury to heal. While you may be eligible for workers' compensation, you should understand that your employer or the insurance company may make it difficult for you to get the full benefits you rightfully deserve, especially if the injury was sustained over a period of time instead of a single incident.
If you or a loved one suffered a rotator cuff tear at work, don't hesitate to contact an experienced workers' compensation attorney for a free consultation. Contact us at Hochman & Plunkett today.