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rotator cuff injuryNearly two million people visit their doctors every year due to rotator cuff pain or injuries, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. A torn or injured rotator cuff can weaken your shoulder and limit your arm’s range of motion, making it painful to engage in work-related tasks or other daily activities.

Jobs with repeated overhead motions can cause rotator cuff inflammation and injury. If you have sustained a rotator cuff tear or injury while performing your job, you may have to take time off work to deal with your injury. You might be wondering how you’ll recover, both physically and financially. After a workplace injury, you may be entitled to medical care through your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance.

Preparing a workers’ compensation claim can be time-consuming and complicated. It’s usually best to work with a knowledgeable, board-certified workers’ compensation attorney who can help you understand your options to pursue the benefits you need and guide you through the process.

The rotator cuff injury lawyers at Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A. handle a variety of workplace injury claims for clients throughout North Carolina. We have the experience to help you pursue fair compensation for your losses. Call us today at (919) 661-9000 or contact us online to learn more in a free initial consultation.

Understanding Rotator Cuff Injuries

The rotator cuff is a cluster of muscles, tendons, and ligaments that stabilize your upper arm bone (the humerus) securely within the shallow shoulder socket to keep the upper arm bone from slipping out of the socket (dislocating). Your rotator cuffs allow you to move and rotate your arms in all different directions, such as throwing a ball.

If your rotator cuff is overexerted, inflamed, or torn, you may experience pain and loss of motion. Many rotator cuff injuries are the result of repetitive motion strain. Shoulder injuries also can occur due to acute traumatic incidents such as a fall with arms outstretched.

Common symptoms associated with rotator cuff injuries include:

  • A dull, aching pain within the shoulder that gets worse when you move the affected arm away from your body
  • Muscle spasms, inflammation, and fluid buildup in the affected area
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Limited range of motion, especially when reaching up or behind your back
  • Weakness in the affected arm and shoulder

In many cases, rotator cuff injury victims eventually learn to manage their symptoms and return to their daily lives with the help of rest, physical therapy, and anti-inflammatory medications. However, more severe rotator cuff injuries may require surgery.

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How Do Rotator Cuff Injuries Occur?

The risk of rotator cuff trauma increases over time with normal wear and tear. Older workers and those who engage in repetitive or strenuous upper-body activities are more susceptible to rotator cuff injuries. However, anyone can sustain a rotator cuff injury.

Common causes of rotator cuff injuries include:

  • Motor vehicle accidents – Motor vehicle accident victims who sustain blunt force trauma, crushing or pinning trauma, or overextension trauma may suffer rotator cuff injuries. One of the most common scenarios is when a driver straightens his/her arms grabbing the steering wheel when they see a collision coming. Rotator cuff injuries may involve simple inflammation of rotator cuff tendons, or in severe cases, partial or complete rotator cuff tears. If you sustained a rotator cuff injury in a collision due to another driver’s negligence, you may have a right to file an injury claim against the at-fault driver’s auto liability insurance and pursue compensation. If you were injured while driving as part of your job, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance should cover your medical bills.
  • Slip and falls – A slip or trip and fall may result in a rotator cuff injury if a victim outstretches his or her arms in an attempt to break a fall, allowing the rotator cuff to absorb the force of impact. Slipping and falling directly onto one’s shoulder could also cause a rotator cuff injury.
  • Repetitive motion – Rotator cuff injuries are common workplace injuries because many workers use their arms and shoulders regularly to complete routine tasks. Rotator cuff injuries frequently affect workers who engage in heavy lifting, repetitive lifting or pushing, overhead lifting, or tasks involving heavy machinery.
  • Acts of violence – Acts of violence that could result in rotator cuff injuries include assault and battery, domestic violence, road rage, and workplace violence.

If you sustained a rotator cuff injury due to another party’s negligence, a personal injury lawyer at Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A. can help you file an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation. If your injury occurred at work, your attorney can walk you through the process of filing a workers’ compensation claim to access your on-the-job injury benefits.

Diagnosis of Rotator Cuff Tears

Rotator cuff tears are not externally visible. Doctors and other healthcare experts may use one or more of the following techniques to diagnose a rotator cuff injury:

  • Physical examinations – Healthcare providers typically begin the diagnostic process by conducting a physical exam. During the exam, a doctor, nurse, or technician may apply pressure to different areas of the shoulder, have the patient move or rotate the arm in different directions, and test the arm and shoulder strength to determine whether the patient experiences pain or weakness.
  • X-ray scans – X-ray scans typically cannot detect tears or other trauma to soft tissue, so rotator cuff injuries do not show up on X-rays. However, doctors may order X-rays to examine bone spurs or other skeletal anomalies that may be contributing to rotator cuff tears or injuries.
  • Ultrasounds – Physicians use ultrasound waves to create images of soft tissue structures such as muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Ultrasounds allow medical providers to view and evaluate these structures in real time and compare injured tissue to healthy tissue.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests – MRI technology uses a magnetic field and computer-generated radio waves to create detailed images of inner arm and shoulder structures. MRI tests may be used to identify tears or other subtle injuries that cannot be detected by other means.

Depending on the location and severity of a rotator cuff injury, physicians may prescribe treatments ranging from simple medication or exercise to invasive surgery.

Medical experts typically treat rotator cuff injuries with:

Anti-inflammatory treatments

Doctors may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to help reduce inflammation or manage pain. If these treatments are ineffective and shoulder pain is interfering with your daily life, physicians may recommend cortisone injections to reduce inflammation and provide short-term relief. These injections are not a long-term solution.

Physical therapyTherapist treating an injured man by rotator cuff stretching method

Doctors often recommend physical therapy as a first step before administering steroid injections. In physical therapy sessions, patients build strength and flexibility in their shoulders by completing targeted exercises. Physical therapy exercises also help rotator cuff surgery patients in the rehabilitation process.

Arthroscopic surgery

In arthroscopic surgeries, physicians use arthroscopes — thin, flexible tubes with video cameras attached to one end — to view the torn tissue and perform surgery. Surgeons make tiny incisions in the shoulder to insert the arthroscopes and small tools that help them repair rotator cuff injuries.

Open surgery

When rotator cuff injuries are extensive and patients require more complicated repairs, open tendon repair surgery may be necessary. In this type of surgery, surgeons make larger incisions so that they can see directly into the shoulder to reattach soft tissues to bones.

The medical costs of shoulder surgery and rehabilitation can add up and become overwhelming to rotator cuff injury victims. If your rotator cuff injury is work-related or the result of another party’s negligence, you shouldn’t bear the burden of these expenses. An attorney can help you file a workers’ compensation claim or a liability insurance injury claim to pursue the compensation you need.

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Contact an Experienced Rotator Cuff Injury Lawyer in Raleigh

If you believe you may have grounds to file a claim for a rotator cuff injury, the personal injury lawyers at Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A. can help you. To discuss the details of your rotator cuff injury case in North Carolina and explore your legal options with an attentive and caring attorney, call Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A., at (919) 661-9000 or contact us online for your free initial case review.

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