Shoulder impingement syndrome is a painful shoulder condition that can limit the ability of a worker to move his shoulder—necessary for many job duties and day-to-day activities. It occurs when there is an impingement—or compression—of the tendons of the rotor cuff muscles or bursa, which is the cushion between the rotor cuff and bone, in the shoulder. Even basic activities a person takes for granted, like reaching up to put on a blouse or shirt or to grab something from up high can be painful. Depending on the severity of the injury, a worker could be off work for weeks, months, or longer while he recovers. Fortunately, he may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits under New Jersey law to pay for his necessary medical treatments and his lost wages.
Who Is Most at Risk of Developing Shoulder Impingement Syndrome?
Shoulder impingement syndrome is also known as thrower’s shoulder or swimmer’s shoulder because sports involving the repetitive movement of the shoulder, such as swimming, tennis, and baseball, can cause this condition. As an occupational injury, it is most often a consequence of repetitive lifting and overhead activities. Workers who are most at risk of developing this condition include:
- Construction workers
- Factory workers
While workers in these professions are most likely to suffer with this, any employee who regularly lifts heavy boxes or other objects or performs work over his head can suffer from this painful disorder.
What Are the Symptoms of Shoulder Impingement Syndrome?
Symptoms of shoulder impingement syndrome can range from mild to severe. Some of the signs that a worker has developed this medical condition include:
- Pain in the upper shoulder that can radiate down into the side of the upper arm
- Increased pain with lifting, reaching, or overhead activities
- Pain when the arm is lowered
- Swelling and tenderness in the shoulder
- Loss of strength or range of motion
- Increased pain at night
Shoulder impingement syndrome has three classifications, depending on the severity of the condition. These include the following:
- Grade I. The tendons and bursa are inflamed.
- Grade II. There is a progressive thickening and scarring of the bursa.
- Grade III. The condition has progressed to degeneration and tears in the rotor cuff.
What Are the Treatments for Shoulder Impingement Syndrome?
Workers need to obtain treatment early to avoid their shoulder impingement syndrome developing into a more serious, long-term problem. Treatment usually begins with non-surgical options. Possible treatments an injured worker could need include:
- Resting the shoulder. A worker suffering with this condition will need to rest his shoulder and avoid the lifting and overhead activities at work that caused the pain. Often this means that the worker will need to be off work while he recovers.
- Icing the shoulder. Applying ice to the shoulder can help reduce the pain and inflammation. This may need to be done once every one to two hours.
- Taking anti-inflammatory drugs. A doctor may prescribe over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, aspirin, or acetaminophen to reduce the pain and inflammation. However, this should only be taken for approximately one week, not on a long-term basis if possible.
- Physical therapy. Physical therapy can be helpful to manage acute pain, strengthen muscles, improve posture, and stretch tight muscles and joints.
- Cortisone shots. A cortisone shot may be needed to relieve the pain and inflammation if other medications are not reducing symptoms. However, these shots cannot be given too frequently as they can cause the muscles and tendons to weaken.
- Surgery. If there is damage to the rotator cuff, such as if it is torn, surgery may be needed to repair the damage. This is often required when the condition has progressed—frequently caused when the worker delays obtaining treatment or works with the pain.
Let Our Firm Take the Burden of Fighting for the Workers’ Compensation Benefits You Deserve Off Your Shoulders
If you suffer from shoulder impingement syndrome caused by your job, you need to focus on healing—and not on fighting for the workers' compensation benefits you are entitled to.
Manfred Ricciardelli has been assisting injured workers like you for over 20 years. Call our firm at 877-360-0183 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with Mr. Ricciardelli to discuss your situation.