Workers engaged in heavy, manual work commonly suffer shoulder injuries. The injuries can vary in severity from muscle sprains, rotator cuff tears, torn ligaments, impingement, dislocated shoulder and fractures. Causes of shoulder injuries can be lifting heavy material and equipment, overhead work, blunt trauma. The shoulder injury may have been caused by one traumatic event or may be the result of cumulative trauma caused by repetitive use of the shoulder and upper extremity.
If you have a serious shoulder injury, it is important that you consult an appropriate medical specialist early in your treatment, usually an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in shoulder and upper extremity injuries. In order to diagnose your shoulder injury and prepare the appropriate medical treatment plan, your treating doctor may send you for an MRI.
Shoulder injuries may develop complications such as Adhesive Capsulitis or Frozen Shoulder, nerve damage and, in some cases, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (“RSD”). Also, it is common that workers, who suffer a shoulder injury to their dominant or major arm, may develop an injury to the opposite arm caused by repetitive use and overcompensating for the injured upper extremity. Treatment for shoulder injuries may include physical therapy, pain and anti-inflammatory medication, cortisone or steroid injections and surgery.
Depending on the person’s age and given the heavy nature of construction work, a worker who has suffered a severe shoulder injury may not be able to do construction work again. Once they reach a medical endpoint, they may be retrained to do light work in another field or, in some cases, apply for Social Security Disability (“SSDI”) benefits.