American workers reported more than 2.9 million non-fatal job-related injuries in 2015, encompassing everything from minor scrapes to permanent disabilities. Sometimes, employees continued working despite their injuries. Many others, however, were forced to miss days of work as they were treated and recovered—with shoulder injuries keeping workers away from the job longer than any other type of injury. Over 75,000 shoulder injuries forced workers to miss a median of 26 days. Shoulder injuries are common and often complicated work-related injuries, both across the country and in Ohio. According to the Cleveland Clinic, approximately 20 percent of doctors’ visits are due to shoulder problems.
Symptoms of a Shoulder Injury
The shoulder is a complex joint that comprises muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bone. When any part is damaged, it can cause severe pain and several other physical symptoms. It is easy to underestimate the severity of a shoulder injury, as the symptoms can manifest many ways. Often, injured workers simply ignore the pain or get used to it, hoping that it will get better in time. This can cause increasingly significant damage, however, and workers who experience any symptoms of a shoulder injury should seek medical help soon. Some common symptoms include:
- Loss of motion
- Instability in the socket
- Redness or warmth around the joint
- Visible deformity
Common Work-Related Shoulder Injuries in Ohio
These symptoms can indicate many shoulder issues. Some appear over time, while others can be brought on by a single traumatic incident. The most common work-related shoulder injuries are:
- Rotator cuff injuries – The rotator cuff is the muscles and tendons that hold the bones of the shoulder joint in place and allows for overhead movement. Injuries to the rotator cuff can be as mild as inflammation or as serious as tears in the muscles or tendons. Impingement, tears, bursitis, and tendonitis are common rotator cuff injuries.
- Dislocation – In a dislocation, the upper part of the arm bone comes out of the shoulder socket. The shoulder is the body’s most mobile joint, which makes it particularly vulnerable to this injury.
- Separation – Injury to the ligaments that hold the collarbone to the shoulder blade are often known as separation injuries. The ligaments can stretch or tear, requiring treatment and rest.
- Bursitis- Bursae are small sacs that reduce the friction in the joints of the body. These can become inflamed. This results in reduced cushioning for the joints and significant pain.
- Arthritis – Most simply, arthritis is inflammation that causes pain and stiffness in the joints. Several types of arthritis can develop in the shoulder in response to trauma, overuse, and even environmental conditions.
- Tendonitis – Tendonitis is inflammation of a tendon, the structures that attach muscle to bone. Inflammation alone can cause significant pain, and severe tendonitis can also result in the rupture of a tendon.
Causes of Occupational Shoulder Injuries
These shoulder injuries and others are caused by many work environments—both those that involve physical labor and those that do not. On-the-job injuries involving the shoulder are most often caused by:
- Repetitive motion
- Heavy lifting
- Poor posture
Ohio is home to several employers whose fields put employees at an increased risk for shoulder injuries. These include those in manufacturing with Honda, healthcare at The Ohio State University Medical Center and other local hospitals, shipping and transportation with UPS and FedEx, construction services with Lowes and Home Depot, and much more.
Medical Treatment for a Work-Related Shoulder Injury
If you experience shoulder pain related to your job, seek medical treatment soon. Waiting for the pain to get better on its own is both physically ineffective and damaging to a future workers’ compensation claim. Treatment for a shoulder injury can include a wide range of interventions, including:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs
- Physical therapy
- Steroid injections
Your treatment plan will be based on your individual symptoms and general health, and only an experienced physician can help you understand how to best address your injury.
If you have suffered a shoulder injury at work in Ohio, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. At Monast Law Office, our experienced Columbus legal team helps injured workers and their families secure the medical care and compensation they deserve. Call our office today to learn more about what we do and how we may help.