The human shoulder is a complex mechanism full of muscles and delicate tendons. When the shoulder is put under stress by heavy or repetitive work, these tendons can tear. The highest risk for rotator cuff injury is present in professions such as roofing, logging, masonry, drywall installation and other common Illinois trades that involve overhead reaching and lifting. The average worker compensation lawyer in McHenry is well aware of the frequency of shoulder injuries in these jobs.
What is a rotator cuff tear?
The rotator cuff is the group of tendons and muscles that keep the shoulder in place and allow it to move freely. In a physically demanding job, a worker will use this mechanism thousands of times every day without a second thought. Acute or repeated trauma may cause one or more of the shoulder tendons to tear, causing immediate pain and disability. The most commonly torn tendon is the supraspinatus tendon, which runs directly from the back to the top of the upper arm, but any part of the rotator cuff may give way under stress. These tears sometimes occur together with a dislocation, a fracture or another trauma.
A tragically common injury
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, more than 4.1 million people visit a doctor each year for rotator cuff tears and related problems. Some of these problems are minor strains, but others are full-blown tears that can lead to weeks or months of lost work time. As a worker compensation lawyer in McHenry can confirm, long-term overuse of the rotator cuff may result in a tear even if an employee follows correct ergonomic rules. Other tears are caused by a sudden workplace accident or a failure to use safe lifting procedures.
Recovering from a rotator cuff tear
Recovery after a rotator cuff tear can be painful and arduous. Some patients respond well to surgical treatment, while others can be treated in a satisfactory manner with the following measures:
- Anesthetic injections
- Anti-inflammatory agents
- Physical therapy
The recovery process always involves a period of total or partial rest. For workers in physically demanding industries, this requires absence from work and compensation for lost wages.
Many Illinois workers are vulnerable to the effects of a torn rotator cuff. If you are living with a shoulder injury, you may want to consider contacting a worker compensation lawyer in McHenry to learn more about your rights.