When you felt the tearing pain in your shoulder, you knew it was not a good sign. Perhaps the pain did not come at once but gradually increased until you could not lift your arm. You may have experienced a rotator cuff injury, one of the more common and painful injuries in the workplace.
Whether your Pennsylvania job includes heavy lifting or repetitive arm motions, the muscles and tendons in your shoulders are susceptible to damage. There are several options for treating the injury, but, depending on the amount of damage, you may be in for a long recovery.
What is a rotator cuff injury?
The rotator cuff is the term used to describe the muscles and tendons that allow your arm to lift and rotate. When the tendon on your shoulder frays, tears or pulls off the bone, you would be wise to seek medical attention. Any of these symptoms may be a sign of a torn rotator cuff:
- Difficulty raising your arm
- Inability to lift items you used to lift
- Shoulder weakness
- Pain when moving your arm in certain ways
- Pain when you lie on the affected arm
- Popping or clicking in the shoulder when you lift your arm
You may simply have a dull ache or find it more difficult to comb your hair in the morning. It is important to take these signs seriously. Some workers who try to push through the pain and discomfort end up with long-term damage that results in a more difficult recovery.
Diagnosis and repair
Your doctor will perform various exams to determine your level of pain and loss of motion and strength. You may need an MRI or other diagnostic tests to confirm the injury. A tear that is not serious may heal with physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medications. However, a complete tear or an injury that doesn’t heal through therapy may require surgery.
Surgery to repair a torn shoulder tendon may include stitching together the torn ends of the ligament or reattaching it to the bone. Following surgery, you will likely not return to work for several weeks while the injury heals. Your doctor will provide you with a routine for minimizing pain and swelling, and you will have instructions for limited movement of your hand and arm. Gradually, you will add more intense therapy to your routine until you regain use of your arm.
The help you need for a full recovery
A rotator cuff injury often includes a long, painful recovery. You may not be able to work for a time. Now, individuals who suffer workplace rotator cuff injuries can typically pursue workers’ compensation. During the difficult time of healing, you might not want to end up stuck personally haggling with an insurance company that wants proof that your injury is work-related. Because of this, you may benefit from the assistance of an experienced workers’ comp attorney when pursuing claims.