Rotator Cuff Injury

Rotator Cuff Injury

If you watch or play sports, you have probably heard of a rotator cuff injury. These injuries commonly happen when athletes hyperextend their shoulder or get hit in the shoulder.

Rotator cuff injuries can cause pain and limit the use of your arm. As a result, you could suffer substantial expenses due to medical treatment, physical therapy, and missed work.

Here is some information about the causes and effects of a rotator cuff injury and the compensation you can seek for one.

What Is the Structure of the Shoulder?

What Is the Structure of the Shoulder?

The shoulder brings together three bones. Your humerus sits in your upper arm and includes a ball on its end. The scapula, or shoulder blade, has a shallow socket that receives the ball of the humerus. The clavicle, or collar bone, provides support for the shoulder and runs across the top of your chest from your shoulder to your breast bone.

Several ligaments hold your shoulder together. These ligaments hold your upper arm to your shoulder blade. They also hold your shoulder blade to your collarbone.

Bursae sit over the ligaments. These fluid-filled sacs sit inside your joints to cushion them and provide a smooth surface for joint movement. Without the bursae, the bones could grind against each other.

The rotator cuff is not a single muscle. Instead, it includes four muscles with tendons to secure them to the bones of your shoulder. These muscles include:

Supraspinatus

The supraspinatus runs from the top of your shoulder blade to the top of your upper arm. It helps you twist and lift your arm.

Infraspinatus

The infraspinatus connects your upper arm to the back of your shoulder blade. It swings your arm in the shoulder socket.

Teres Minor

The teres minor runs from the lower end of your shoulder blade to your upper arm. It helps the infraspinatus swing and rotates your arm.

Subscapularis

The subscapularis runs from the inside of your shoulder blade to your upper arm. You use this muscle when you hold your arm out straight from your body.

How Does a Rotator Cuff Injury Happen?

Rotator cuff injuries happen from trauma and overuse. Some types of trauma that can cause rotator cuff injuries are described below.

Penetrating Injuries

Penetrating injuries happen when an object pierces the rotator cuff muscles and tendons. For example, falling onto a sharp surface in a construction accident can sever the muscles or tendons in your rotator cuff.

The object can also come from the inside. Suppose that you get hit by a car in a bicycle accident and break your upper arm. The broken end of the bone could cut and tear the muscles and tendons in your rotator cuff.

Blunt Force Injuries

Blunt force injuries happen when something hits your shoulder without piercing the skin. A blunt force can damage the muscles and the blood vessels that feed them. You might develop a bruise.

Blunt forces can also damage nerves. Damaged nerves inflame, causing them to misfire. 

The resulting symptoms can include:

  • Pain
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Loss of dexterity

A severe blunt force injury can crush the muscles, causing them to die.

Hyperextension

One of the most common causes of rotator cuff injuries is hyperextension. When a powerful force pushes, pulls, twists, or rotates your arm, the muscles and tendons in your rotator cuff can hyperextend. The hyperextended muscles may stretch or tear.

For example, if you slip and fall on stairs, you may try to catch yourself by throwing your arm backward. When your hand hits the ground, the force on your shoulder can hyperextend your rotator cuff muscles.

Overuse

Another common cause of rotator cuff injuries is overuse. Stress on your rotator cuff muscles causes small tears to form in the muscles. With rest, these tears heal and the muscle gets stronger. Without rest, these tears propagate, leading to a rotator cuff injury.

What Are Some Examples of a Rotator Cuff Injury?

Rotator cuff injuries can take a few different forms, including:

Torn Rotator Cuff

A torn rotator cuff happens when at least one of the muscles or tendons develops a tear. In a partial tear, some of the tendon or muscle remains intact. In a complete tear, the tendon or muscle fully separates.

A partial tear may heal over a few months with immobilization, rest, and anti-inflammatory medication. A complete tear may require surgery.

In either case, you will probably need months of physical therapy after your rotator cuff injury heals to rebuild your strength and flexibility.

Rotator Cuff Tendinitis

Tendinitis commonly happens to people with jobs that require repetitive motions like lifting and carrying. Tendinitis occurs when repetitive stress causes tendons to develop tiny tears. The damage causes the tendon to inflame. 

As a result, you might experience:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Limited range of motion

Tendinitis can heal on its own, but it requires rest. Sometimes a doctor will put your arm in a brace or sling so that the tendons do not accumulate further damage while you heal.

Bursitis

Technically, bursitis is not a rotator cuff injury. Instead, it involves the bursae that sit in your shoulder joint in and between your rotator cuff muscles.

The bursae cushion the joint and allow the bones to move against each other without grinding. When the bursae get damaged, they inflame. As a result, you could experience aching or sharp pain in your shoulder.

What Compensation Can I Receive for a Rotator Cuff Injury?

If you suffered a rotator cuff injury, you might be entitled to seek compensation. Workers who suffer rotator cuff injuries on the job can claim workers’ compensation benefits to cover part of their medical expenses and lost income.

People who were not at work and suffered rotator cuff injuries due to someone else’s negligence can pursue an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. The compensation you recover could cover your medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering.

A rotator cuff injury can leave you with enormous medical bills for surgery, physical therapy, and medication. It can even leave you unable to earn a living. As a result, a rotator cuff injury may require substantial compensation to make you whole.

Contact a Houston Personal Injury Lawyer For Help After Suffering a Rotator Cuff Injury

If a negligent party caused your rotator cuff injury, you might be entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages. To learn about the compensation you can seek for your rotator cuff injury, contact Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation with a Houston personal injury lawyer.