Mechanics are likely to suffer rotator cuff injuries because their jobs require them to engage in repetitive overhead motions when a car is on a lift. There are four tendons that attach the muscles in the shoulder blade and ribs to the upper arm. These tendons are collectively called the rotator cuff, as they help the shoulder rotate the arm within its socket.
Mechanics who regularly assess damage, perform repairs, or hold their arms up for extended periods under a vehicle can suffer the following injuries:
- Impingement syndrome. Repairing cars relies on many rough and repetitive shoulder movements, causing friction in the rotator cuff. When the bones, muscles and tendons in the shoulder rub together, the friction may cause impingement syndrome, or a swelling in the rotator cuff.
- Rotator cuff tendonitis. Tendonitis, or an inflammation of the tendons, can occur anywhere in the body. It is likeliest to occur in the joints, as the tendons are forced to move within a tight space. Rotator cuff tendons can become inflamed if they are overextended or rub against a nearby bone or ligament in the shoulder. If only one tendon is affected, a worker will usually experience pain only when the tendon is being used, causing decreased range of motion
- Shoulder bursitis. The bursa is a fluid-filled sac that absorbs the friction in the rotator cuff. If the tendons are not rested, inflammation can spread into the bursa, causing bursitis. Bursitis is often extremely painful, with sharp pains occurring when the shoulder is moved in any direction, particularly when the worker reaches overhead.
- Rotator cuff tear. If a worker continues to use an inflamed shoulder, the repetitive motion can weaken the tendons to a point where they tear under the stress. Rotator cuff tears are most commonly seen in workers over the age of 40, and can take weeks or even months to heal properly.
Workers’ Compensation Should Cover Your Rotator Cuff Treatment
Repetitive stress injuries such as rotator cuff damage are covered under Missouri workers’ compensation law. Depending on the extent of your injury, you may simply need to rest your arm in a sling for a few weeks or undergo physical therapy to relieve the strain on your tendons. However, severe tears may require surgery to restore lost strength and range of motion in a dominant arm, causing an employee to miss several weeks of work.
No matter what kind of treatment your doctor recommends, you should not have to pay for the costs of an on-the-job injury. We can help you get the workers’ compensation benefits you need to pay for your medical care and provide for your family while you recover. Call us today to have us examine your claim, or learn more in our free accident guide, How to Avoid Becoming a Work Injury Horror Story.