If you work in an occupation that requires you to regularly lift heavy objects or perform repeated overhead motions, you run the risk of eventually damaging a rotator cuff. Professionals like painters, carpenters and others who work in construction can be particularly susceptible to rotator cuff disease, as it’s called, after years of strain on this area.
Most people don’t think about their rotator cuffs until one or both of them starts to hurt. The rotator cuff is comprised of muscles and tendons around the shoulder joint. It keeps the upper arm bone in the shoulder socket.
Rotator cuff damage can occur over time or suddenly
Doing regular exercises to strengthen and increase the flexibility of their rotator cuff can help ward off painful strains. However, as people get older, years of exertion can cause degeneration of their rotator cuffs.
A rotator cuff tear can also be caused by a single event. You may know people who tore their rotator cuff while working out with a punching bag. Sometimes people who fall while they’re running will stretch their arms out overhead as they fall and tear a rotator cuff.
Why medical treatment is often necessary
While you’ll know if you suffer a serious tear, a minor tear or gradual deterioration may just be chalked up to aging or strain. However, if you find it painful to reach behind your back, if the pain is interfering with your sleep or if you’re experiencing weakness in one or both arms, it’s wise to see a doctor.
Surgery isn’t always necessary. Sometimes, doctors will have patients keep the shoulder immobilized in a sling and rest it for a period. However, this shouldn’t be done without having a doctor examine and do imaging of the shoulder to determine the type and extent of the damage.
Since rotator cuff disease can be caused by a variety of activities, you may have to provide persuasive evidence to your employer and workers’ compensation insurance provider that your rotator cuff issues were caused by your work – particularly if there wasn’t one specific event that caused an injury. If you’re having difficulty getting the workers’ comp to which you’re entitled, it may be wise to seek legal guidance.