A rotator cuff tear happens when muscles or tendons in the shoulder are damaged, such as in a car accident. This type of injury can occur when someone uses his/her arm to brace before an auto accident, for example. Some might reach out to the dashboard to brace for impact.
Unfortunately, a rotator cuff tear can cause more than just pain. These injuries can significantly impact a person’s range of motion. It may even result in disability.
Board-certified orthopedic surgeon Dr. Theodore Schlegel notes that, “The incidence of rotator cuff tears is known to increase dramatically each decade of life after the age of 50.” Therefore, if the auto accident was caused by someone else’s negligence it may be beneficial to file a claim, especially if you are faced with extensive recovery.
Overview of a Rotator Cuff Tear
There are two types of tears: partial and complete. A partial tear includes soft tissue damage but the tendon hasn’t completely separated. A complete tear, of course, includes a full tear of the tendon.
Oftentimes an acute tear, such as in a car accident, is accompanied by other injuries. Most common are dislocated shoulders and fractured collarbones.
The symptoms of a rotator cuff tear vary and while pain is the most common, some people experience a crackling/snapping sensation when moving the arm. The arm may also feel weak and be difficult to lift. Certain movements may cause more discomfort, especially when lifting and lowering the arm. And it’s usually painful to lie on the injured shoulder.
A shoulder injury can impact one’s ability to perform typical daily tasks, such as getting dressed and grooming. The person might not be able to drive or work. Even with treatment, recovery may be long. Therefore, the individual could be out of work for an extended period of time.
Between this and medical bills, the injured person may be entitled to recover compensation for damages. Of course, other forms of compensation could be available when someone else was at fault for the accident. Pain and suffering, reduced quality of life and emotional distress are examples.
Treating a Rotator Cuff Tear
Treating the injury generally starts with noninvasive measures and sometimes it will heal (especially in a partial tear) with:
- medication for pain; and
- limiting activities.
A sling may help keep the shoulder stable. Surgery is the next step but before considering surgery, many doctors try steroid injections (aids in reducing inflammation in the shoulder) and/or physical therapy. Exercises to strengthen the shoulder and restore mobility may help improve range of motion.
If these noninvasive forms of treatment don’t work or the tear is especially severe, surgery may be the only option. Although it usually relieves pain and restores function of the shoulder, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes the person will still experience ongoing pain, weakness and reduced strength in the shoulder. Recovery can also be quite extensive after surgery.
Find Legal Help to Recover Compensation for Damages
Call D.J. Banovitz to discuss your accident, liability for it, and which damages may be recoverable. Set up a free consultation by calling 303-300-5060 or use our online contact form to get started now.