Learn how to secure maximum workers’ comp benefits after suffering a rotator cuff injury at work
Workplace injuries, particularly those affecting crucial areas like the rotator cuff, are common across various industries in Arizona. From construction workers and grocery stockers frequently engaging in lifting activities to office workers who might encounter a one-time incident like a moving heavy object, the risk is pervasive.
Understanding the right steps to take following a rotator cuff injury is vital for ensuring a comprehensive recovery and ample financial support through workers’ compensation.
For expert guidance with filing a workers’ comp claim after an injury, reach out to the experienced Phoenix work injury attorneys at The Law Offices of Robert E. Wisniewski for a free consultation.
What is a rotator cuff injury?
The rotator cuff is a part of your shoulder that contains all of the muscles and tendons that are necessary to help hold the head of the upper arm bone in its socket. As you move, these muscles and tendons stretch and flex back into their positions.
Over time, repetitive movements can cause the rotator cuff to develop wear and tear that contributes to the injury. You could also experience a rotator cuff injury from moving your shoulder in a way that causes the muscles and tendons to strain too hard or tear suddenly.
How do I know if my rotator cuff is torn?
Rotator cuff tears can range from mild to severe. With a milder tear, you might notice recurring pain. The pain may increase or only occur when you do certain activities.
With a moderate to severe tear, you might notice grating or cracking noises when you move your arm. Weakness in the affected arm is another common system that you might experience. In the most severe cases, you won’t be able to move your arm at all.
What are the common causes of a rotator cuff injury at work?
Common causes of a rotator cuff injury at work include the following:
- Repetitive motion. Continuous overhead activities or repetitive arm movements, often seen in jobs like painting, stocking shelves or construction work, can strain and wear down the rotator cuff muscles over time.
- Heavy lifting. For workers like delivery drivers, frequently lifting heavy objects can put a significant strain on the shoulder, leading to tears or other injuries in the rotator cuff.
- Awkward positions. Working in awkward or unusual positions, especially where the arms are extended or raised for prolonged periods, can cause excessive stress on the shoulder joints and muscles.
- Sudden movements. Unexpected or abrupt movements, such as catching a falling object, can lead to acute injuries in the rotator cuff area.
- Poor ergonomics. Inadequate workplace ergonomics, such as unsuitable workstations or improper handling techniques, can increase the risk of shoulder injuries.
- Accidents or falls. Direct trauma to the shoulder from slip-and-fall accidents can cause immediate damage to the rotator cuff.
Understanding and mitigating these risks through proper training, ergonomic adjustments, and safety protocols can help reduce the occurrence of rotator cuff injuries in the workplace.
Everything you need to know about Arizona’s workers’ comp law, eligibility requirements, and how to apply for benefits.
What is the best treatment for a rotator cuff injury?
The best treatment for a rotator cuff injury often depends on the severity and nature of the injury.
For less severe injuries, non-surgical treatments are typically recommended. This approach includes:
- Resting and avoiding activities that aggravate the shoulder
- Applying ice to reduce swelling
- Taking anti-inflammatory medications to alleviate pain and inflammation
Physical therapy also plays a crucial role in this treatment regimen, focusing on exercises to strengthen the shoulder muscles, improve flexibility, and restore range of motion.
In cases of more severe rotator cuff injuries, such as complete tears, surgical intervention might be necessary. The surgery aims to repair the torn tendons and reattach them to the bone. Post-surgical recovery includes a period of immobilization followed by physical therapy, which is vital for regaining strength and function in the shoulder.
How long will I be off work with a rotator cuff injury?
The length of time that you’ll need to take off work can vary based on the severity of your injury. If the injury is mild, then you could return to your normal work duties within a few weeks.
Rotator cuff injuries that require surgery will naturally require a longer recovery period. In addition to needing to heal from the surgery, you may need to allow for time for physical therapy to strengthen your rotator cuff.
Some people may need to take up to a year off of work, while others may not be able to return to their prior duties at all. Following your recommended treatment plan is the best way to make sure you can return to work faster.
Is a torn rotator cuff a permanent disability?
A torn rotator cuff can turn into a permanent disability when the injury is severe enough that you aren’t able to fully recover your mobility. A severe tear may still leave you with lingering pain, weakness or loss of the normal range of motion, even after surgery. If you require a shoulder replacement, then you may no longer be able to work in your former position.
Can I get workers’ comp benefits for a rotator cuff injury?
Workers’ compensation benefits can apply to rotator cuff injuries, provided that you meet certain requirements.
Similar to other types of work-related injuries, you’ll need to be able to prove that you developed the rotator cuff injury at work or while performing your job duties. With repetitive stress injuries, you’ll need to prove that the issue developed due to strain caused by a job-related motion that occurred over time.
In Arizona, you may also be able to receive workers’ comp benefits for rotator cuff injuries that are caused by your current job duties aggravating a pre-existing condition.
Keep in mind that for the best chance of a successful claim, you’ll need to work with an attorney along with your medical team to prove that your injury is work-related before you get approval to receive benefits.
What types of workers’ comp benefits can I get for a rotator cuff injury?
Workers’ compensation benefits fall into several important categories. Naturally, you should expect to receive benefits that apply to your medical care, such as payments for doctor visits, medications and physical therapy. You may also be entitled to receive benefits for your lost wages if you’re unable to work while you recover.
So, how much compensation can you get for a rotator cuff injury?
If your injury is temporary, then you’ll usually receive up to two-thirds of your average wages until you can return to work or reach what’s called maximum medical improvement (MMI). This compensation is designed to help offset lost income during your recovery period.
For those with permanent disabilities resulting from a rotator cuff injury, the benefits are calculated based on the severity of the injury, including the ability to return to work, whether in a modified role, a different position, or at a lower pay grade.
Additionally, the severity of the disability and its impact on your future earning capacity are taken into account. It’s crucial to consult with a workers’ compensation attorney to understand your specific case and ensure you receive the full compensation you’re entitled to.
Get help with your workers’ comp claim from an experienced Arizona work injury attorney
Workplace injuries like rotator cuff injuries can be complex, both in terms of medical treatment and navigating workers’ compensation claims. Understanding the nuances of these injuries and ensuring you receive the appropriate compensation and care is crucial.