Rotator cuffs are the groups of muscles around each shoulder joint. They are some of the most complex joints in the body, as well as one of the most frequently used. That is only one of the reasons why injuries – or even tears – to this joint are some of the most common work injuries Maryland workers must be aware of.
A common risk for workers – at almost any time
The primary risk of rotator cuff injuries is that they can occur immediately or develop and worsen over time.
For example, if a worker attempts to lift something in an improper position or falls on their arm, the rotator cuff could tear. On the other hand, repetitive motions and use can cause damage and tearing over months or even years on the job.
Many actions can cause a rotator cuff injury, including:
- Pushing or pulling
- Using heavy machinery and tools
By this list alone, it is clear to see that rotator cuff injuries are a serious risk for workers in a wide range of industries and jobs.
The chance of an injury increases with both age and use, but these injuries are still a risk that workers should not overlook.
A rotator cuff tear can put workers out of commission
Torn rotator cuffs do not always present severe symptoms. Workers might experience:
- Chronic pain in their shoulders
- Muscle weakness
- Limited movement
These symptoms are especially common if the damage occurs over time. Immediate injuries might feel sharp or stabbing.
In many cases, treatment for torn rotator cuffs includes physical therapy to strengthen the shoulder, but some workers might have to get surgery to repair their rotator cuff to regain use of their arm. Recovering from surgery can take an average of four to six months – and even longer for workers to be able to lift heavy loads again.
Even in the event of an acute or sudden injury to a shoulder, many employers and insurance companies deny claims or contest the need for medical care as being unrelated to work. In such circumstances, the employer and its insurer contest that the resulting injury is degenerative in nature and occurred without a relationship to work. Workers’ Compensation benefits can still cover injured workers, even if they have a pre-existing condition with their shoulder. As a result, in order to understand their rights and obtain coverage while they are either in treatment, out of work, or both, injured workers should consult competent counsel to ensure they are protected.