Most of us need to use our arms every day for our work, self-care, and recreation. Unfortunately, arm and elbow injuries in the workplace are largely out of our control and can seriously limit our capacity in daily life.
When you experience an injury at your Georgia workplace, or notice a connection between new problems and your work history, be sure to find out if your Georgia employer and their insurance provider are offering you the benefits that you deserve. This can be difficult to handle alone, but one of our Georgia workers’ compensation lawyers at Gearhart Law Group can help you move forward with confidence.
Who Is At Risk for a Work-Related Arm or Elbow Injury?
While most of us will experience an arm or elbow injury at some point in our lives, people with certain jobs are more likely to have these injuries. For example, those who frequently perform manual labor in professions such as construction, landscaping, manufacturing, or package delivery (just to name a few) are at an increased risk because of repetitive arm and elbow use – this is also usually with heavy loads.
Gearhart Law Group proudly represents these common Georgia workplace arm and elbow injuries:
- Arthritis (changes to the bone in your arm or elbow)
- Triceps Tendon Rupture
- Ligament Tears and Sprains
- Fractures of The Arm or Elbow
- Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
- Bursitis and Tendinitis
If you’ve been recently diagnosed with an arm or elbow injury, contact the Georgia workers’ compensation lawyers at The Gearhart Law Group. We can help you discover more about your injury, determine if your injury is related to your employment, and help find the best medical professionals in your area for the best treatment possible.
What Arm or Elbow Injuries Can I Experience At My Georgia Workplace?
Your upper arm is mostly made up of your humerus, biceps and triceps muscles, and various nerves. Your elbow joint is made up of three bones that articulate (connect) with each other, including your humerus (arm bone), ulna (large forearm bone) and radius (small forearm bone). Your elbow primarily acts as a hinge, which is covered with articular cartilage to absorb shock and allow for smooth movement of your elbow.
Because the elbow joint acts as a major support structure, and the muscles of your arms are heavily used during carrying and lifting, these areas are especially vulnerable to injuries at work. Most arm and elbow injuries are due to consistent or repetitive stress over the course of months or years, making them difficult to fully realize until a breaking point is reached. However, events such as a fall or direct trauma may instantly cause a new arm or elbow injury while at your Georgia workplace.
Whether your injury is due to a new accident or repetitive stress, it’s important to seek out diagnosis from a healthcare professional to figure out the best care plan for your condition.
Common Arm and Elbow Conditions
The term arthritis means inflammation and pain within a joint. There are two main types of arthritis: osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) – while both can be seriously debilitating, osteoarthritis (OA) is more likely to be involved with your recent work history.
Most of us will develop OA in small amounts throughout our lifetime. However, excessive and repetitive stress to joints due to awkward or heavy movements can seriously accelerate the process and lead to symptoms of OA at an earlier age.
Symptoms of OA the the elbow typically include pain and stiffness with motion, especially in the morning or on a cold day, and may include swelling of your elbow joint with activity. Because there are changes to the bones of the elbow, OA can easily be diagnosed with an X-ray.
Triceps Tendon Rupture
Tendon ruptures occur when a muscle is overloaded, causing the tendon – which connects muscle to bone – to rupture or break. The triceps muscle plays a big role in elbow motion, and can become overworked with repetitive lifting or pushing.
Symptoms of a triceps tendon rupture include severe swelling at the elbow joint and inability to extend (straighten) the elbow independently. You may not feel pain with this injury, and this is because a tendon that has fully ruptured does not stimulate pain signals in the same way that a partially torn tendon would.
Triceps tendon rupture is considered a serious injury that requires surgery for treatment and return to normal work activities. Because of the type of tissue that is affected, this injury is usually diagnosed using advanced imaging such as MRI.
Ligament Tears and Sprains
Your arm and elbow joint are supported by several ligaments, which are responsible for connecting bones together and providing stability to joints. Commonly injured ligaments of the elbow are the ulnar and radial collateral ligaments.
These ligament injuries typically occur during an accident at work such as a fall, heavy lifting, or a sudden bending or twist of the arm. When this happens, the supporting ligaments can become overstretched (sprained) or torn.
Symptoms of ligament sprains or tears in the elbow typically include pain with movement, excessive range of motion (joint laxity), and decreased stability during carrying or lifting. Ligament injuries are usually diagnosed using advanced imaging such as MRI.
Fractures of The Arm or Elbow
Arm and elbow fractures can occur in the humerus (arm bone), ulna (large forearm bone) or radius (small forearm bone). Some common types of arm and elbow fractures are stress fractures, non-displaced fractures, and displaced fractures.
Stress fractures are small cracks in the bone that develop due to excessive or repetitive stress. These can occur suddenly during an accident, or occur slowly over time with excessive workload or inadequate rest from activity.
Non-displaced fractures are more serious than stress fractures, breaking the bone without changing the alignment of the bone. Displaced fractures include a full break of the bone with clear changes in bone alignment. Both of these fractures are typically acute (sudden) and result due to a serious accident such as a fall or crash.
Symptoms of stress fractures may be mild or moderate, involving pain during repetitive use or heavy lifting. Symptoms of more serious fractures will include severe pain, swelling around the joint, and inability to move the affected area.
All fractures are considered a serious injury and cannot be accurately diagnosed without use of medical imaging such as an X-ray. If you think that you might have a fracture, talk to your doctor immediately.
Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
One major nerve that runs through a shallow groove in your elbow (the cubital tunnel) is called your ulnar nerve. Many people call this the “funny bone” because bumping this nerve can cause a tingling or shocking sensation in the arm. Cubital tunnel syndrome refers to entrapment of this nerve.
Symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome include persistent numbness, tingling, and pain in the arm, wrist, or hand. This problem can occur due to either excess stress on the ulnar nerve through repetitive lifting and carrying, or direct compression from arthritis or other bone growth near the ulnar nerve. Living with this injury can be very difficult because strength and endurance of the arm may also be affected.
Because cubital tunnel syndrome can progress over time to limit strength and sensation in the arm, it’s important to get a diagnosis and treatment plan as early as possible. Diagnosis of this condition may be done using a combination of nerve conduction testing and MRI.
Bursitis and Tendinitis
Your elbow joint is supported by several fat pads (called bursae) and muscle tendons that assist with the healthy function of your arm and elbow. Some common injuries of these structures are bursitis and tendinitis.
Bursae are fluid-filled sacs that add padding and insulation to your arm and elbow joint, and the term bursitis refers to inflammation of a bursa. Tendons are connective tissue that connects muscle to bone, and tendinitis refers to inflammation of a tendon. Both of these are classified as inflammatory conditions.
Symptoms of bursitis and tendinitis typically include pain with shoulder movement, especially with carrying, pushing, or overhead lifting. You may also notice swelling around your elbow joint that is sensitive to touch.
While bursitis and tendinitis are usually less severe compared to sprains or fractures, they both still require proper diagnosis and early treatment for best results and long-term success.
What Treatments Are Available for My Arm and Elbow?
Each of these conditions can be treated or managed with the help of the right healthcare professionals. Your specific treatment will be specific to you, depending mainly on the nature or severity of your diagnosis. However, seeking diagnosis and getting the right care is essential to your success.
More often than not, your medical doctor will prescribe physical therapy to treat your arm or elbow condition and help get you back to your regular work activities. Treatment approaches in physical therapy will focus on manual therapies, muscle-strengthening exercises, and movement retraining focused on getting you back to meaningful function. Your physical therapist may also recommend certain equipment such as a brace or sling to help support your recovery.
More serious injuries, such as a displaced fracture or triceps tendon rupture, may require surgical intervention for reconstruction or hardware placement. In this case, your course of physical therapy will depend on which procedures are performed and the preferences of your surgeon. In most cases, full return to work will still require rehabilitation and ongoing monitoring from your care team.
Contact an Atlanta Arm and Elbow Injury Lawyer
The Georgia workers’ compensation lawyers at The Gearhart Law Group represent victims of work-related injuries and assist them in receiving workers’ compensation benefits. Our lawyers understand how your employer and their workers’ compensation insurance companies try to save money by either denying your claim or by underpaying your claim. We know how to fight any objections they may have and pursue all the Georgia workers’ compensation benefits you deserve. Call us now so we can evaluate your individual case and advise you of your next legal steps as well as ensuring you are receiving the best medical care for your injuries.