The shoulder is a ball and socket where the arm bone (humerus) is kept in the shoulder socket by a network of four muscles and tendons composing the rotator cuff. A rotator cuff tear is where one or more of the rotator cuff tendons tears and is no longer attached to the head of the arm bone.
The tear can be a partial tear, where the tendon is not fully severed, or a full-thickness tear, where the tendon completely detaches from the bone. Rotator cuff tears are a common injury in adults, especially older adults.
Causes of tears to the rotator cuff sustained in accidents
Rotator cuff tears are caused by injury (sports or trauma) or degeneration of the tendon from old age or repetitive use. When the rotator cuff degenerates, it has a lower blood supply, which means it cannot repair and maintain itself as well. The degeneration process can be accelerated by repetitive motion.
Medical treatment for rotator cuff injuries
In many cases, torn rotator cuffs can be treated without surgery. However, the decision of whether to repair the tear with surgery or not should be made early on before the injury progresses and repair is no longer an option. Many factors come into play when deciding whether or not to treat a tear through surgery – the age of the patient (the older the patient, the less likely ), how long ago the injury occurred, the patient's occupation, and whether the patient will adhere to the physical-therapy orders.
If a patient wants to regain full use of their shoulder and strength, surgery is necessary. In most cases, surgery improves shoulder function and ends up reducing pain. A mini-open repair is less invasive than it once was, using a small incision to use arthroscopy followed by surgical repair of the rotator cuff through the small incision. Another option is the all-arthroscopic repair, which uses very small cuts to insert a camera to guide small surgical instruments.
Prognosis for patients with shoulder injuries such as rotator cuff tears
If the tear is minor, it will usually heal on its own. The doctor will usually recommend rest, an anti-inflammatory drug, ice and/or heat, avoiding any activities that cause pain or discomfort, and sometimes physical therapy. Corticosteroid injections may also be used to help reduce inflammation. If surgery is used to treat the rotator cuff tear, there will be a significant post-operative recovery period as well as intensive therapy. The patient must use a sling for four to six weeks to limit movement. Then, for the next six to twelve weeks, physical therapy (passive-motion exercises and range of motion exercises) is performed. In some cases it can take six months for the patient to fully recover.
Legal assistance for people with rotator cuff injuries
If you have sustained an injury to your shoulder in an accident, it is important to get medical attention for the injury. Then it is important to talk with a lawyer who represents clients with should injuries in order to fully appreciate your rights. When a shoulder injury, such as a rotator cuff tear, is caused by the negligence of another party, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC can assist you in recovering all available damages from the at fault party.
In the case of shoulder injuries with surgery or other types of extensive medical care, we can recover damages relating to the expense of past and future medical care and lost wages. Whether you need a personal injury lawyer in Chicago or anywhere in Illinois, contact our office today and begin the process of your recovery.