Oh, wait. You probably can't raise your hand above your head. Being able to do so without pain often becomes the primary goal of everyone who suffers from this type of injury. Unfortunately, it could be months before you can reach for the sky again. Even so, you may still experience some pain when you do.
A rotator cuff injury can happen suddenly in a fall or some other accident, or it can happen over time from performing the same motion hour after hour, day after day and week and after week at work. Regardless of how it happened, your treatment plan may depend on the type of injury and its severity.
The basics of a rotator cuff injury
Four muscles make up the rotator cuff. Each one connects to the other and the bones by a strong band of tissue called a tendon. Over time, overuse and repetitive motions can cause substantial wear and tear on those tendons. The pain in your shoulder can reach a point where you can no longer use it without cringing. You may not even be physically able to raise your arm without extreme pain.
Treating tendinopathy (or tendinitis)
Injuries to the rotator cuff caused by repetitive motion are called tendinopathy (or tendinitis). Most often treatment includes the following:
- Reducing inflammation
- Resting the tendons
- Using ice and heat
- Performing range of motion exercises
- Performing strength exercises
Like other Missouri workers who suffer from this type of injury, you may fully recover with or without treatment.
Treating a rotator cuff tear
If you suffer from chronic tendinopathy, you could end up tearing one or more of the tendons in your rotator cuff. A tear may also occur from a hard blow, a fall or a rapid use of force. Some tears require surgery to fix. If you have a tear, and your mobility, strength and pain do not improve within three to six months through physical therapy, you may require surgery.
What about work in the meantime?
Since a rotator cuff injury can take upwards of six months to heal, you may not be able to perform your job duties for some time. You may need to take some time off work in the initial days and weeks, and may need light duty until you fully recover. Your time off work could also depend on whether you require surgery.
Since your injury happened at work, you could obtain workers' compensation benefits to cover your medical and medical-related needs, along with a portion of your income while you can't return to work. Depending on your circumstances, you may be entitled to other benefits as well, and help in obtaining them is available if you need it.