For most people, having a healthy shoulder is essential for performing work duties, handling family responsibilities, and participating in meaningful recreation. Unfortunately, injuries in the workplace, whether chronic or accident-related, can seriously limit our ability to participate in our daily lives.
When you suffer an injury at your Georgia workplace, or establish a connection between developing symptoms and your recent work history, it’s important to get organized and ensure that your Georgia employer and their insurance provider are providing you with the benefits you deserve. Although this can be difficult to do alone, 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 Shoulder Injury?
While most people will experience some type of shoulder injury during their lifetime, certain professions are more likely to suffer injury. Those who frequently perform manual labor in professions such as construction, landscaping, manufacturing, or package delivery (to name a few) are at an increased risk because of repetitive shoulder and arm use, often with heavy loads.
Gearhart Law Group proudly represents these common Georgia workplace shoulder injuries:
- Arthritis (changes to the bone in your shoulder)
- Rotator Cuff Tears
- Adhesive Capsulitis (frozen shoulder)
- Ligament Tears and Sprains
- Fractures of The Arm or Shoulder
- Bursitis and Tendinitis
If you’ve been recently diagnosed with an injury to your shoulder joint, contact the Georgia workers’ compensation lawyers at The Gearhart Law Group. We can help you determine if your injury is related to your employment and what medical professionals in your area can provide you with the best treatment possible.
What Shoulder Injuries Can I Experience At My Georgia Workplace?
Your shoulder joint is made up of three bones that articulate (connect) with each other, including your humerus (arm), scapula (shoulder blade) and clavicle (collarbone). Your shoulder primarily acts as a ball-and-socket joint, which is covered with articular cartilage to absorb shock and allow for smooth movement of your arm.
Because the shoulder joint acts to support your arm during carrying and lifting, it is especially vulnerable to injuries at work. Most shoulder injuries are due to repetitive stress over the course of months or years, especially with repetitive lifting and reaching duties at work. However, events such as a fall or awkward lift may instantly result in a new shoulder 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.
The term arthritis refers to inflammation and pain within joints of the body. There are two common types of arthritis: osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and while both can be seriously debilitating, osteoarthritis (OA) is more likely to be involved with your work history.
Most people will develop OA in small amounts throughout their lifetime. However, excessive stress to joints due to repetitive movements can seriously accelerate the process and lead to symptoms of OA at an early age.
Symptoms of shoulder OA typically include pain and stiffness with motion, especially in the morning, and may include swelling of your shoulder joint. Because there are changes to the bones of the shoulder, OA can easily be diagnosed with an X-ray.
The main connection between your humerus (arm bone) and scapular (shoulder blade) is called your glenohumeral joint. The glenohumeral joint is a shallow socket that holds the head of your humerus, and it’s typically very shallow.
Shoulder dislocations may occur during a sudden fall or tugging motion, pulling the head of the humerus out of the shallow socket. Dislocations are very obvious and cause deformity of the shoulder joint, severe pain, and inability to raise the arm.
Rotator Cuff Tears
The rotator cuff is a collection of tendons that meet around your glenohumeral joint (the joint connecting your arm to your shoulder blade), providing stability to your shoulder during movement. Any tearing of these tendons is considered a tear of the rotator cuff.
Rotator cuff tears can develop chronically (slowly over time) or acutely (suddenly). Chronic rotator cuff tears can usually be linked to a repetitive shoulder or arm movement, such as tool use or overhead lifting. Acute rotator cuff tears generally occur during work accidents such as fall or unsafe heavy lifting.
Rotator cuff tears may be diagnosed clinically via strength and motion testing. In the case of advanced tearing, you may be unable to actively raise your arm overhead. Definitive diagnosis is usually done using advanced imaging such as MRI.
Adhesive capsulitis (commonly called frozen shoulder) refers to a shrinking and stiffening of the capsule lining your shoulder joint (specifically the glenohumeral joint).
While the exact causes of adhesive capsulitis are still unknown, research shows that some people, specifically middle-aged women, are more likely to develop the condition. However, adhesive capsulitis may occur for any gender at any age.
Similar to other overuse injuries, adhesive capsulitis is generally associated with repetitive use of the arm and consequently stress to the shoulder joint. Symptoms typically appear over the course of weeks or months as a gradual loss of range of motion in the shoulder, eventually becoming very limiting and painful for most people.
Similar to a rotator cuff tear, adhesive capsulitis may be diagnosed by measuring range of motion or by using advanced imaging such as MRI.
Ligament Tears and Sprains
The shoulder joint is supported by a series of ligaments, which connect bones together and provide stability to the joint. Commonly injured ligaments of the shoulder are the acromioclavicular ligament and the glenohumeral ligaments.
Ligament injuries typically occur during an accident at work such as a fall or heavy lifting. However, injuries to the shoulder ligaments, specifically the glenohumeral ligaments, may occur if the arm becomes pinned or pulled by a heavy object.
Symptoms of ligament tears in the shoulder typically include pain with movement, excessive range of motion, and decreased stability during overhead motions or carrying. Ligament tears are usually diagnosed using advanced imaging such as MRI.
Fractures of The Arm or Shoulder
Shoulder or arm fractures can occur in the arm bone (humerus), shoulder blade (scapula), or clavicle (collarbone). Some common types of shoulder fractures are stress fractures, non-displaced fractures, and displaced fractures.
Stress fractures are defined as small cracks in the bone that develop due to excessive stress. These can occur suddenly during an accident, or occur slowly over time with excessive workload.
Non-displaced fractures can be more serious than stress fractures, breaking the bone without changing the position of the bone. Displaced fractures include a full break of the bone with clear changes in bone shape. 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, presenting with 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 suspect you have a fracture, talk to your doctor immediately.
Bursitis and Tendinitis
Supporting the bones and cartilage of your shoulder joint, many fat pads (called bursae) and muscle tendons assist with the healthy function of your shoulder. Some common injuries of these structures are bursitis and tendinitis.
Bursae are fluid-filled sacs that add padding and insulation to your shoulder 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 considered inflammatory conditions.
Symptoms of bursitis and tendinitis typically include pain with shoulder movement, especially carrying or overhead lifting, and may involve noticeable swelling around the shoulder joint that is sensitive to touch.
Similar to other common shoulder conditions, inflammatory conditions such as bursitis and tendinitis usually develop due to repetitive stress from carrying, lifting, and driving.
What Treatments Are Available for My Shoulder?
All of these shoulder conditions can be treated or managed with the help of trained healthcare professionals. Your course of treatment will vary depending on the nature or severity of your diagnosis, but seeking diagnosis and appropriate care is essential to your success.
In most cases, your medical doctor will prescribe physical therapy to treat your shoulder condition and help get you back to your regular daily life. Treatment approaches in physical therapy typically include targeted manual therapies, muscle-strengthening exercises, and movement rehabilitation focused on restoring meaningful function. Your physical therapist may also recommend specialized equipment such as a brace or sling to help support your recovery.
More serious injuries, such as a full rotator cuff tear or shoulder dislocation, may require surgical intervention for reconstruction or hardware placement. In this case, the course of physical therapy may be very different depending on which procedures are performed. In most cases, full return to work will still include rehabilitation and ongoing monitoring from your care team.
Contact an Atlanta Shoulder 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.