In Rhode Island, work-related rotator cuff injuries are a common reason for pursuing a workers’ compensation claim and needing to take time away from work. This injury can cause significant pain, limited movement and other discomfort. Injuries can worsen and affect work productivity and long-term health if not treated. Understanding rotator cuff injuries and their causes can help employees and employers work toward prevention.
Types of rotator cuff injuries
A rotator cuff consists of four muscles and their tendons, which work together to help you move and stabilize your shoulder joint. These muscles help you lift your arm, rotate it and perform actions like reaching, throwing and lifting. Rotator cuff injuries can appear in different ways, some more severe than others.
Specific work duties that pull or stress the arm and shoulder can cause tendonitis, an inflammation of the tendons surrounding the rotator cuff. Bursitis is another common injury caused by an inflamed bursa sac inside the shoulder joint. More severe rotator cuff injuries include tears in the tendons that make up the shoulder’s rotator cuff.
Causes and risk factors
Work-related rotator cuff injuries are common and often happen due to repetitive motion tasks. Frequently moving your arm overhead, for example, can place a large amount of strain on your rotator cuff. Lifting heavy objects, especially without proper lifting techniques, can pull on the shoulder and cause strain and injury to the rotator cuff.
If you work in an area with a poor workplace setup, use tools at an awkward angle or perform other tasks in a position with poor ergonomics, you are more susceptible to rotator cuff injuries.
Symptoms and diagnosing
Common symptoms of rotator cuff injuries include muscle weakness and pain in the shoulder. The pain is often persistent and can interfere with shoulder mobility, causing workers to require time off for treatment and possibly necessitating a workers’ compensation claim to cover medical treatment and any lost wages.
In some cases, individuals lose the ability to lift the affected arm more than a few inches. To diagnose rotator cuff issues, a doctor typically uses X-rays, MRIs and physical exams to explore and pinpoint the exact nature of the injury.
Preventing work-related rotator cuff injuries is essential to continuing to do your job in a healthy and sustainable way. Employers can provide training and other supportive measures to help employees reduce the chance of injury and enjoy a safer workplace.