In my 25 years of representing accident victims, I have found rotator cuff injuries to be about the most debilitating of all traumatic injuires for those employed as manual laborers. Unfortunately, it is a very common injury – for example, shoulder pain is second to back pain as the bases for workers’ compensation claims.
The rotator cuff is made up of 4 tendons, and they cover the top of the humerus. A rotator cuff injury involves a tear to one or more of these tendons. Tears can be full or partial thickness.
Tears can be acute, when a sudden force is applied to the shoulder, or chronic, which is deterioration over a long period of time. Common symptoms of acute tears include a tearing sensation, sudden pain, and sudden weakness. The symptoms of chronic tearing include gradual progression of shoulder pain and weakness, and difficulty sleeping on the affected side.
Rotator cuff tears are diagnosed clinically, by the orthopedist through examination, and by MRI. The best type of MRI to accurately diagnose the presence of a rotator cuff tear is the MRI arthrogram.
Treatment for rotator cuff injuries includes conservative care and surgery. Conservative care includes rest, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (Motrin, Aleve, Celebrex) and physical therapy, and sometimes proves valuable with partial tears. Complete tears and partial tears that have not responded well to conservative care, usually will require surgery.
The types of surgery are arthroscopic repair, mini open repair, and open repair. The amount of rehabilitation and recovery time depends on the severity of the injury and the type of surgery performed.
It is never easy to return to performing heavy manual labor following a rotator cuff injury. In terms of lost wages, the consequences can be significant. I have represented a countless number of manual laborers over the age of 50 with rotator cuff injuries. When these individuals have little formal education and no office work experience, they always struggle to remain gainfully employed. It is not uncommon for such individuals to apply for Social Security Disability and other public assistance.
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Jeffrey P. Gale, P.A. is a South Florida based law firm committed to the judicial system and to representing and obtaining justice for individuals – the poor, the injured, the forgotten, the voiceless, the defenseless and the damned, and to protecting the rights of such people from corporate and government oppression. We do not represent government, corporations or large business interests.