Workers are constantly using their shoulders in many jobs such as industrial work, construction work, and agricultural work. Nurses, waitresses, and many other employees also regularly use their shoulders at work. Injuries to the shoulders generally happen either through some sort of acute incident such as a fall, tear, a forceful blow to the shoulder, or another immediate event. Shoulders can also be damaged over time through constant wear and tear. That one extra movement at work can affect a weak shoulder by causing a lifetime of chronic pain.
The different kinds of shoulder injuries that are work-related
The shoulder consists of a ball and socket joint. There are many different types of injuries that can happen according to the Mayo Clinic. Some of these types of injuries are the following:
- A broken clavicle or collarbone. The clavicle bone connects your shoulder blade to the upper part of your breastbone. Fractured collarbones can take months to heal after they are properly set by your physician. In some cases, surgery is required to repair the fracture.
- Brachial plexus injury. A brachial plexus injury. According to the Mayo Clinic, this injury happens when the shoulder nerves are compressed, stretched, or there is a tear from the spinal cord.
- A shoulder dislocation. This painful injury happens when the “upper arm bone pops out of the cup-shaped socket that’s part of your shoulder blade.” With prompt medical treatment, many workers do recover from a shoulder dislocation. However, once a shoulder is dislocated it becomes likely that the employee may suffer subsequent dislocations.
- Tears of the rotator cuff. This part of the shoulder is composed of muscles and tendons. Rotator cuff injuries may require surgery. Workers generally need to take a fair amount of time off to work with physical therapists to manage the continual pain. Workers who have a rotator cuff injury will have difficulty lifting objects and using their shoulder in any way until the rotator cuff injury is repaired.
- A separation of the shoulder. The ligaments effectively hold the shoulder blade and the collarbone together. There are different types of separated shoulder injuries that are graded based on their severity. The least severe separated shoulder injury consists of stretched ligaments. The most severe type of separated shoulder injury is when the ligaments are torn. A common self-help treatment is rest, ice, and the use of pain relievers.
Another common type of shoulder injury that may occur through work is called a tear of the labrum, fibrous tissue. Other types of shoulder injuries include impingement syndrome, otherwise known as frozen shoulder and avascular necrosis (death of bone tissue due to limited blood flow), and sprains.
Treatments for shoulder injuries
Employees who suffer any type of shoulder injury should save seek medical help. If an accident causes the shoulder injury, then workers should go to their nearest emergency room to obtain a diagnosis and an initial treatment plan. Some of the doctors that employees with shoulder injuries treat with after the initial review at the emergency room are the following:
- Orthopedic surgeons. These physicians diagnose injuries to bones, muscles, ligaments, and other parts of the shoulder. They repair fractures and tears, treat dislocations and separated shoulders, and provide medical help for the full range of shoulder injuries.
- Pain management doctors. Workers who suffer shoulder injuries may also seek help from pain management physicians to treat their pain, typically after the surgeon has done everything he or she can do, but there remains residual pain.
- Physical therapists. Most workers who have a shoulder injury, whether or not they’ve had surgery, will normally need to spend numerous sessions with a physical therapist. The therapist provides exercises that helped to strengthen the shoulder and the muscles around the area of the injury. Treatments can take weeks or months before the worker is able to return to his/her job. In some cases, workers may need to trade for a longer period of time.
Workers with any type of shoulder injury will often have difficulty performing routine personal tasks such as eating, sleeping, brushing their hair, driving, or any type of household activity. The same thought applies for their ability to do their work. Most workers who have a shoulder injury need to stop working until their pain and shoulder injury are properly treated. Even when workers do return to work, they may need to work subject to physical restrictions such as not lifting objects that weigh more than 20 pounds.
Some shoulder injuries, particularly in older workers, may not be amenable to repair, or the repairs may not provide sufficient relief or restoration of function, and accordingly may require what is known as a reverse shoulder replacement.
Workers who suffer shoulder injuries are generally entitled to the following benefits in North Carolina and in Virginia:
- Payment for all reasonable and necessary medical bills;
- 2/3rds of their average weekly wages until their injury reaches the stage of maximum medical improvement (MMI);
- Workers who return to work with restrictions are normally entitled to 2/3rds of the difference between their average weekly wage before their injury and a lower wage after they return to work – that they may be paid because of their job restrictions, otherwise known as temporary partial disability payments;
- If there is a permanent injury, there may be additional possible benefits the injured work may be entitled to for permanent partial impairment to the injured body part, which insofar as the shoulder would be called either the right or left upper extremity.
As a recent case shows, attorney Miller fights aggressively for his clients. This fight includes efforts by the physicians hired by the employer’s insurance company who may argue your shoulder injury is due to a pre-existing condition.
North Carolina and Virginia workers’ compensation lawyer Joe Miller has helped thousands of injured workers obtain just recoveries. He understands just how life-altering a serious shoulder injury can be. He works with your physicians to ensure that you get the medical help you need – and that your employer does not force you back to work before your injuries have been treated and healed. To review your shoulder injury claim or any other work injury claim with a seasoned workers’ compensation lawyer, call lawyer Joe Miller, Esq., at 888-667-8295. or use my online contact form to schedule an appointment.
Employees in North Carolina and Virginia can also now fill out our New Electronic Case Review. The link is a new way of communicating with clients that we’re offering – to allow workers to contact us remotely during the pandemic.