Rotator Cuff Injury
Most people never think about the complex structures that allow the body to perform its functions. For example, in the shoulder alone, four different muscles work together to lift, pivot, and rotate your arm. These muscles make up your rotator cuff.
When you injure any of these muscles, you could experience severe pain. Worse yet, your injury could severely limit your activities for weeks or even months.
As a practical consideration, it can be helpful to learn about rotator cuff injuries and how you can seek compensation for a rotator cuff injury caused by someone else’s negligence.
Table of Contents
What Is the Structure of Your Shoulder and Rotator Cuff?
Your shoulder joint brings together your upper arm bone, or humerus, and your shoulder blade, or scapula. The humerus has a ball on its upper end that fits into a socket in the scapula.
Unlike the ball-and-socket joint in your hips, the socket in your scapula doesn’t completely surround the ball on your humerus. Instead, the socket forms an indentation that fits but doesn’t hold the ball.
The rotator cuff is a set of four muscles and tendons that hold the ball into the socket. This arrangement allows more freedom of movement in your shoulders than in your hips. But these four muscles must withstand a lot of force when you lift or carry objects. Their position also exposes them to shoulder trauma.
Tendons attach the four muscles of your rotator cuff to your humerus and scapula. The four muscles and tendons include:
This muscle connects the outside of your humerus to the outside surface of your scapula on your back. The teres minor rotates your arm.
The supraspinatus connects the top of your humerus to the outside surface of your scapula. This muscle provides the leverage to raise your arm.
The infraspinatus is the largest muscle in your rotator cuff. It wraps around the outside of your humerus and connects it to the outside surface of your scapula. It rotates your arms toward your back.
The subscapularis runs from the front of your humerus to the inside surface of your scapula. It rotates your arm toward your front. It also helps to raise and lower your arm.
How Do Rotator Cuff Injuries Happen?
Rotator cuff injuries can result from trauma or overuse. Some types of trauma that can damage the rotator cuff include:
Penetrating trauma occurs when an object pierces your shoulder, leaving an open wound. Penetrating trauma can happen in pedestrian, motorcycle, and bicycle accidents when victims suffer open wounds from the impact of a vehicle or the road.
Penetrating trauma can also happen in workplace accidents where tools or materials are propelled into the accident victim or when the victim falls onto a sharp object like a piece of rebar or a protruding nail.
Blunt trauma happens when something impacts the shoulder without causing an open wound. Blunt trauma often occurs in high falls or slip and fall accidents.
Hyperextension is when the shoulder is stretched beyond its normal range of motion. This extreme stretching can tear the soft tissues in the shoulder, including the rotator cuff.
Hyperextension can happen in a fall, particularly if you try to catch yourself. It can also result from car accidents as your body whips around during a collision.
Rotator cuff injuries can result from repetitive motions, particularly those performed while playing sports or on the job. When you stress your rotator cuff by lifting or carrying objects, the muscles form microscopic tears.
With sufficient rest, the muscles heal and grow stronger. If you repeat the motions without rest, however, the tears can develop into an injury.
What Types of Rotator Cuff Injuries Can Occur?
Rotator cuff injuries can take many forms depending on the trauma you suffer and the structure you damage. Some examples of rotator cuff injuries include:
Bruises usually result from blunt trauma. They form when blood vessels rupture under the skin, resulting in pain, swelling, and discoloration.
Even the most serious bruises heal within a few weeks. You might take anti-inflammatory drugs during your recovery to reduce swelling and promote healing.
Strains happen when you stretch or tear muscles or tendons. They often result from overuse or hyperextension. A deep laceration can also sever muscles or tendons.
- Muscle inflammation and spasms
Minor rotator cuff strains usually heal with home care in four to six weeks. But if you suffered a full-thickness rotator cuff tear, you may require surgery and several months of recovery.
Most large joints, including the shoulder, have pockets of fluid to cushion them. Bursitis happens when these pockets of fluid become inflamed.
Bursitis often results from overuse or hyperextension injuries. It can heal with rest and anti-inflammatory drugs.
Tendinitis is similar to bursitis, but instead of the bursae, it’s the tendons that are inflamed. Tendinitis usually results from overuse of your shoulder. As with bursitis, your doctor will probably prescribe rest and anti-inflammatory drugs to treat tendinitis.
What Compensation Can You Seek for a Rotator Cuff Injury?
If you’ve suffered a rotator cuff injury in a workplace accident or due to overuse in the workplace, you can probably seek workers’ compensation benefits. Most employers in Florida must carry workers’ compensation insurance so that injured employees can pay for medical treatment and receive partial disability benefits.
If your rotator cuff injury happened in a car accident, you can pursue benefits under the personal injury protection (PIP) coverage in your auto insurance policy. You receive these benefits regardless of who caused your accident under Florida’s no-fault insurance system.
Unfortunately, PIP benefits only cover 80% of your medical bills and 60% of your lost income, and they come with a $10,000 limit. Unless you suffered only a minor rotator cuff injury, you’ll probably need additional compensation to pay for your medical treatment, physical therapy, and lost wages.
If your injury resulted from another driver’s negligence, you may be entitled to file a claim against the at-fault driver. To prove negligence, you must show that the other driver failed to exercise reasonable care. A rotator cuff injury can limit your ability to use your injured shoulder and arm. You might lose days or weeks of wages while you recover from your injury. Contact a personal injury attorney from Allen Law Firm, P.A. to schedule a free consultation and discuss your rotator cuff injury and the compensation you may be entitled to seek for it at (352) 351-3258.