Shoulder injuries are common in the workplace and can cause workers to file workers’ compensation claims. Because the shoulder is used any time a person uses his arm, these injuries can be painful and cause limitations in movement that can make it impossible for a worker to perform his job duties. An employee could need months or longer of treatments and therapy. Fortunately, workers who suffer a shoulder injury at work may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to pay their medical bills, wage loss benefits, and partial or total disability benefits.
What Are Causes of Shoulder Injuries?
The shoulder is a comprised of ball-and-socket joint with three major bones: upper arm bone (humerous), shoulder blade (scapula), and collarbone (clavicle). Muscles, tendons, and ligaments hold the bones together. While workers who engage in heavy lifting may be at higher risk of suffering a shoulder injury, workers in many different professions suffer shoulder injuries serious enough to require the filing of a workers’ comp claim. Sports activities, illnesses, and falls are some non-work related causes of shoulder injuries. Common workplace causes of these injuries include:
- Lifting and pushing. When workers overexert themselves by lifting, pushing, and shoving heavy objects, they can suffer serious shoulder injuries. Factory, construction, and warehouses are a few of the industries where workers are prone to these injuries. However, office workers and others who do not do much manual labor could suffer a shoulder injury if they pick up a box of office supplies or move their computer or furniture.
- Awkward positions. If employees must work in awkward positions, this can cause them to develop a shoulder injury over time. Roofers, construction workers, and plumbers are just a few workers who regularly must work in awkward positions.
- Repetitive movements. Repetitive motions can cause injuries to the wrists, hands, arms, and shoulder that develop over time and can cause chronic pain and limitations of movements. Factory workers, construction workers, roofers, drywall installers, and painters are manual laborers who are subject to repetitive motions. Cashiers, restaurant workers, and office workers are also at serious risk of suffering this type of shoulder injury.
- Power tools and equipment. The use of power tools and heavy machinery can involve both repetitive motions and vibrations from the equipment that can cause injury to the shoulder over time. Many factory and construction workers suffer these injuries.
- Slips and falls. Workers in virtually any job are in danger of suffering a shoulder injury in a slip and fall accident due to spills, worn and damaged flooring, icy parking lots and entranceways, and more.
Common Shoulder Injuries You Could Suffer at Your Job
Shoulder injuries can vary from mild strains and sprains to much more serious injuries requiring surgery. Common shoulder injuries caused at work include:
- Fractures. Fractures of the upper arm bone can often be treated by immobilization, icing, and pain medication. However, compound fractures of the collarbone and dislodged bone fragments caused in a fracture of the shoulder blade may require surgery to repair.
- Rotator cuff tears. The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that stabilize the shoulder, and tears of the rotator cuff are a common soft tissue injury. It can cause arm weakness, difficulty raising the arm, a dull ache in the shoulder, and difficulty sleeping. Treatments often start out conservatively with ice, pain medication, and physical therapy. If the injury does not heal, a worker could need surgery, which may not occur for months or longer after other treatments are tried.
- Impingement. Shoulder impingement is a common injury caused when workers must raise their hands above their shoulders, which can irritate the tendons of the rotator cuff muscles. This can cause pain, shoulder weakness, and difficulty raising the arm. Treatment usually involves icing the injury, medication to manage pain, and a physical therapy program.
- Shoulder dislocation. Shoulder dislocation occurs when the upper arm pops out of the shoulder socket, which can make the person more prone to future dislocations. Immobilization, physical therapy, and surgery are some treatment options. In serious cases, a person can suffer complications like tearing of muscles, tendons, or ligaments, nerve damage, and blood vessel damage.
- Bursitis. Bursitis is the painful inflammation that affects the small, fluid-filled sacs known as bursae that cushion the muscles, tendons, and ligaments surrounding the shoulder. Symptoms can include pain—sometimes disabling—swollen and red appearance, inability to move a joint, and a fever. Medications, physical therapy, cortisone injections, and rest are common treatments. In rare situations, surgery to drain the bursae may be needed.
Did you suffer a shoulder injury at your job? You may need to fight harder to obtain the workers’ comp benefits you deserve, especially if you suffered a soft tissue injury. For a successful claim, you need the assistance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. Start an online chat to schedule your free consultation to learn more about how I can assist you.