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Rotator Cuff Injury - Repetitive Shoulder Strain Injuries

Many times car accident victims will complain of neck and shoulder pain and this pain can be a warning sign of a rotator cuff injury that could require surgery. These rotator cuff surgeries can cost upwards of $80,000.00 and there is no guarantee that additional surgeries wont be needed.

The rotator cuff is composed of the muscles and tendons of the shoulder. These muscles and tendons connect the shoulder blade to the upper arm and hold the ball of the upper arm in the shoulder socket. Injuring your rotator cuff can be debilitating and painful.

diagram of a torn rotator cuffEven small, day-to-day tasks, such as reaching for something on a shelf, can become extremely challenging. Fortunately, many rotator cuff injuries can heal on their own with rest and self-care. Some injuries, however, are much more serious and require immediate medical attention.

Symptoms of Rotator Cuff Injuries

Rotator cuff injuries can result from sudden falls or from long repetitive arm motions. Therefore, the symptoms of rotator cuff injuries can occur immediately or they may slowly develop over days, weeks or months of manual labor. Common symptoms of rotator cuff injuries include pain, tenderness of the shoulder, a loss of range of motion in the shoulder, or weakness. The pain of rotator cuff injuries is particularly prominent when attempting to reach, lift or pull.

Minor rotator cuff injuries can get better with ice and rest. Those who are healing may find heat, stretches and massages helpful. Unfortunately, these types of home remedies are not sufficient for all shoulder injuries. You should seek out medical attention if you are experiencing severe shoulder pain, if you are unable to use your arm, if your arm feels weak or if your shoulder has hurt for over a week.

Causes of Rotator Cuff Injuries

There are many ways in which you can hurt the muscles and tendons of your upper arm.

  • Tendinitis is when the rotator cuff becomes inflamed because of overuse or overload. This is common for individuals who do a lot of overhead activities.
  • Tears and strains can occur. It is possible to weaken tendons through tendinitis resulting in chronic tendon degeneration. Weakened tendons are prone to tears.
  • Bursitis is when the bursa, a fluid-filled sac in the shoulder joint, becomes inflamed and irritated.

In many cases, rotator cuff injuries result from normal wear and tear. Middle-aged individuals commonly experience a breakdown of the protein in the tendons and muscles surrounding the rotator cuff. As we age, we become more prone to injury and degeneration. In some cases, you can develop calcium deposits within the shoulder area that pinches the rotator cuff area as well. You can even cause a rotator cuff injury by slouching too much.

Physical activities and falls are common contributing factors in rotator cuff injuries as well. Falls, for example, commonly result in shoulder injuries. If you use your arm to brace yourself while falling, you can bruise or tear a muscle or tendon. You can strain yourself by lifting a heavy object or by reaching for something that is over your head. The object does not even have to be heavy to cause an injury. Repetitive stress through consistent movement can cause inflammation and tearing. This is common for athletes as well as for painters, carpenters and individuals who work in construction and manufacturing.

Treatment for Rotator Cuff Injuries

Since rotator cuff injuries typically develop over time, you may not need to rush to the emergency room. Once you make your doctor's appointment, there are things you can do to reduce your symptoms. Make sure you rest your shoulder and avoid painful movements. Make sure you apply cold packs to your shoulder to reduce inflammation. If needed, you can also take over-the-counter drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen.

When meeting with your doctor, make sure you accurately describe exactly where the pain is located. Discuss what types of activities aggravate your pain. Tell your doctor what movements make it worse and if you have any weakness or numbness in your arm. The doctor would likely order an x-ray to examine the bones as well as an MRI scan or ultrasound scan to determine the cause of your pain and the severity of the damage. From there, you may need steroid injections, surgery or arthroplasty.

Getting the Help You Need

Seeking help should not end with seeing a doctor. If you were injured at work, you may want to discuss your options with a workers' compensation attorney. If you were injured because of someone else's negligence, a personal injury attorney can help you better understand your legal rights and options.


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Disclaimer: The legal information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor the formation of an attorney-client relationship. Any results set forth here were dependent on the facts of that case and the results will differ from case to case. Bisnar Chase serves all of California. In addition, we represent clients in various other states through our affiliations with local law firms. Through the local firm we will be admitted to practice law in their state, pro hac vice.

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