If you’ve suffered a shoulder injury at work that requires surgery, you likely have a lot of questions about your recovery, ability to work, and options for financial compensation.
Dealing with a serious shoulder injury and undergoing surgery can be scary and stressful.
But it’s important to understand that you have legal rights as an injured worker, including the ability to file a workers’ compensation claim and seek the benefits you deserve.
This article will walk you through the key steps after suffering a work-related shoulder injury that necessitates surgery.
I’ll explain the common causes of shoulder injuries on the job, the workers’ comp process, what to expect after surgery, settlement amounts, and how an experienced attorney can help maximize your recovery.
My goal is to empower you with the knowledge you need to make the best decisions during this difficult time.
- 1 Causes And Types of Work-Related Shoulder Injuries Requiring Surgery
- 2 The Workers’ Compensation Process for Shoulder Injuries
- 3 Recovering After Shoulder Surgery
- 4 Settlements and Claims Process
- 5 Ongoing Medical Care and Other Benefits
- 6 Life After Shoulder Surgery – Returning to Normal
- 7 Preventing Work-Related Shoulder Injuries
- 8 Adapting Your Home After Surgery
- 9 Psychological Impacts and Coping
- 10 In Conclusion
Causes And Types of Work-Related Shoulder Injuries Requiring Surgery
Rotator cuff tears are one of the most common shoulder injuries that qualify for workers’ compensation for shoulder injury requiring surgery.
The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles and tendons surrounding your shoulder joint, and tears often occur when these tendons are strained or rubbed against bone.
Symptoms include shoulder pain at night or with overhead motions, weakness in the arm, and a cracking sensation when moving the shoulder.
An MRI can confirm a rotator cuff tear, which won’t heal without surgery to reattach the tendon.
Labrum tears are another prevalent shoulder injury, especially among workers who make overhead throwing motions on the job.
The labrum is a ring of cartilage around your shoulder socket, and tears cause pain, catching sensations, and instability.
A SLAP tear specifically affects the top of the labrum and also requires surgical repair in most cases.
Other shoulder injuries like dislocations, fractures around the shoulder socket, and a condition called frozen shoulder can also arise after an accident at work.
Symptoms range from severe pain to greatly limited mobility in the arm and shoulder.
While some fractures and dislocations heal without surgery, others require operative fixation with plates, screws, or pins.
Frozen shoulders may necessitate manipulation under anesthesia to break up scar tissue if physical therapy fails.
The Workers’ Compensation Process for Shoulder Injuries
If you’ve suffered a shoulder injury on the job that requires surgery, workers’ compensation provides wage replacement benefits, covers medical costs, and offers potential settlements for permanent impairment.
But to access these benefits, you need to take the right legal steps:
- Report the injury to your employer immediately
- Seek treatment at an approved panel physician
- Get recommended treatment like surgery officially authorized
- Consult with an orthopedic specialist
- Understand your rights regarding independent medical exams
- Challenge any disputes over accident causation
Reporting promptly, seeing the right doctors, and having recommended surgery approved may seem daunting. But an experienced workers’ comp attorney can help you navigate through the process smoothly.
Recovering After Shoulder Surgery
The recovery timeline after shoulder surgery varies based on factors like your age, type of repair, and how extensive the damage was. But generally, you can expect:
- At least 2-3 months with your arm in a sling or brace
- Several weeks of gentle range-of-motion exercises
- 3-6 months of physical therapy to rebuild strength
- 6-12 months until you can return to full activity
Your doctor will evaluate strength, mobility, and residual pain at regular intervals.
Most patients see significant improvements in shoulder function within a year after surgery. However, you’ll likely have some permanent restrictions on overhead lifting and range of motion.
Settlements and Claims Process
Pursuing a workers’ comp settlement can help offset lost wages from time off work and compensate you for any lingering disability. The value depends on:
- The severity of original injury and treatment needed
- Extent of permanent impairment or restrictions
- Impact on ability to work long-term
- Amount of past and estimated future medical costs
- Wage benefits paid already for missed work
An experienced attorney can increase your payout by thoroughly documenting wages, medical expenses, injuries, and abilities. They’ll also advise you on the settlement steps:
- Evaluating settlement offers
- Negotiating with claims adjusters
- Navigating mediation if needed
- Preparing for potential hearings
Ongoing Medical Care and Other Benefits
Even after you settle your workers’ comp claim, your employer’s insurance may still cover future medical costs related to the shoulder injury. This depends on the terms of your settlement agreement.
Other options like employer-sponsored disability benefits or social security disability provide income if you cannot work. An attorney can help you understand these benefit options.
Life After Shoulder Surgery – Returning to Normal
It can take up to a year or more before you’re back too close to your pre-injury abilities after major shoulder surgery.
Be patient with your recovery and adaptations needed to avoid re-injury. Injury Compensation Helper understands these challenges and is dedicated to helping people like you navigate this difficult time.
While range of motion and strength often see marked improvements with dedicated rehab, residual achiness and tightness are common long-term.
An orthopedist or physical therapist can recommend exercise modifications, adaptive equipment for work, pain management approaches, and lifestyle changes to protect your shoulder.
Preventing Work-Related Shoulder Injuries
Shoulder injuries often seem inevitable if you work in a physically demanding job.
However, taking certain precautions can significantly reduce your risks of suffering an acute strain or repetitive stress injury.
It’s important to use proper form and technique when lifting, pushing, pulling, or reaching overhead.
Keep objects close to your body and avoid lifting loads above shoulder height whenever possible.
Wear an upper body support brace if your job requires repetitive throwing motions, like cement masons or construction workers often do. Ask coworkers for help moving heavy objects instead of tackling them alone.
Adjust workstations to minimize reaching by keeping commonly used items within easy access.
Take regular breaks from repetitive shoulder tasks by rotating to other duties. Strengthen muscles in the shoulders, upper back, and core through exercise routines that support and stabilize the joint.
Speak up about shoulder pain early instead of working through it, and request an evaluation of your duties. Use machinery for assistance whenever possible to reduce strain.
While no workplace can eliminate shoulder strain entirely, cautious ergonomic practices combined with proper medical care can help reduce pain and injury risk.
Adapting Your Home After Surgery
Recovering from major shoulder surgery while navigating a home filled with obstacles can be frustrating and dangerous.
However, making some simple adaptations can help make things a little easier on yourself. Try rearranging cupboards and closets so commonly used items are stored within easy reach.
Install grab bars in the shower/tub area as well as near the toilet to help with balance. Use long-handled sponges and brushes for bathing and hygiene to avoid reaching.
Opt for slip-on shoes and clothes with zippers or elastic waists to avoid pulling things over your head.
Equip yourself with a long reacher-grabber tool to pick things up off the floor. Set up a comfortable recliner chair with a side table for recovery time. Remove loose rugs and add nightlights to avoid stumbling in the dark.
Stock up on non-perishable groceries and easy frozen meals you can prepare one-handed.
Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for help with housework, yardwork, laundry, and anything else that requires shoulder mobility. The less you need to stretch and strain your shoulder early on, the better. Take it easy and make smart adaptations.
Psychological Impacts and Coping
You’ve been through the ringer. This shoulder injury happened out of nowhere, turning your world upside down.
One minute you’re working hard to provide for your family, and the next you’re facing surgery, excruciating rehab, and reduced ability to even care for yourself.
It’s okay to feel depressed, frustrated, scared, or just plain angry. This isn’t fair and it isn’t your fault.
Don’t bottle up the hurricane of emotions swirling inside. You need to express them or they will tear you apart from the inside out.
Maybe you pour it all out privately in a journal or through art therapy. Or perhaps you’d rather join a support group to share the ups and downs with fellow survivors.
Their shoulder battle scars may be different, but they can relate to the chronic pain and disability in a way your family never could.
Whatever outlet you choose, use it frequently. Pat yourself on the back for each tiny triumph like learning to button your shirt one-handed or graduating from a sling to gentle stretches.
Compliment yourself as you would a child taking their first steps. Progress will seem slow at times, but you’ll get there.
If dark thoughts of perpetual misery start to creep in, talk to a professional. They can teach you coping strategies to change negative thinking patterns before they become dangerous habits.
You are stronger than you know. Take control where you can and ask for help when you need it.
With each painstaking phase of recovery, you’ll grow more confident in your ability to adapt and thrive despite physical limitations. This injury will never define you, but overcoming it against all odds absolutely will.
Suffering a serious shoulder injury on the job and needing surgery can derail your life in many ways.
But by understanding your legal rights and consulting qualified attorneys, you can recover necessary workers’ comp benefits, fair settlements, and the best possible medical care.
With persistence through rehab, smart modifications, and support from your legal team, it’s possible to regain functionality and get back to meaningful work after a work-related shoulder injury requiring surgery.
Remember that you don’t have to navigate recovery alone. Connect with a dedicated workers’ compensation attorney for tailored advice on your situation and options.
They can walk you through each phase after surgery, including documentation tips to maximize your settlement. Don’t wait to get clarity on your rights and the benefits you deserve.