Years of swinging hammers and carrying loads over your head have finally caught up with you: you can’t move your arm, sleep, or even drive without pain. Your doctor has diagnosed you with a rotator cuff injury, most likely as a result of job-related stress. You can’t imagine going back to work while you’re suffering this much, but you can’t stay out of work forever. Would surgery repair the damage, or keep you away from your job even longer?
Treatment for Rotator Cuff Injuries
Treatment for rotator cuff injuries usually depend on the specific factors of the patient’s condition and his pain level. For instance:
- Tendonitis – If the tendons surrounding the rotator cuff are inflamed, physical therapy exercises alone may be enough to ease the pain.
- Bursitis – If the fluid-filled padding around your shoulder joint becomes swollen, you may benefit from resting the arm and icing the area. If this does not help, your doctor may recommend a steroid injection.
- Impingement – Nerves may become compressed in the narrow outlet between the cartilage and bones of the shoulder. If this happens, you may need surgery to relieve the pressure on the nerves.
Will I Need Rotator Cuff Surgery?
It may be time to consider rotator cuff surgery if:
- Your rotator cuff was torn in a sudden injury (rather than repetitive stress).
- Your injury has been confirmed as a complete rotator cuff tear.
- The injury is causing severe shoulder weakness or numbness in the fingers and hand.
- The injury has failed to improve after six months of nonsurgical treatment.
- You need the full range of motion and strength in your shoulder to perform your job.
- You are young and otherwise healthy and will recover from surgery well.
Surgical Overview and Recovery
Surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff may involve removing portions of your tendon, filing down the bones in the joint to relieve pressure causing numbness and pain, or sewing the torn tendon back together. After surgery, you will likely need to keep the affected arm immobile for several weeks before completing post-surgical physical therapy to help strengthen the joint.
You will likely need to find other means of income as you recover from your surgery. To find out what benefits you may be able to get, click the link on this page to read through our FREE book, What the Injured Worker Needs to Know: Your Workers Comp Guide.