Shoulder injuries are one of the most common musculoskeletal workplace injuries, especially if you have a job that requires lifting, pulling, pushing and carrying, such as nursing or construction. The five most common shoulder injuries include:
- Shoulder impingement. This condition is also referred to as rotator cuff tendinitis and usually starts with low-level pain at the front part of the shoulder or midway down the arm. You may feel pain and stiffness when you lift your arm. The problem tends to worsen over time, with pain shooting through the arm and shoulder, and sharp pain with reaching motions. You may also find it difficult to sleep. This injury is common for people who have to lift overhead or do repetitive lifting. Treatment usually starts with non-surgical options like physical therapy and steroid injections. If that doesn’t work, your doctor may suggest surgery.
- Rotator cuff tears. The rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles holding your upper arm bone in the should socket. If your job requires repetitive overhead motions, you are at risk for a rotator cuff tear. You may feel an ache within the shoulder and feel weaker than normal. You may also have a hard time reaching over your head or behind you and you might find it hard to sleep. These injuries can often be treated with nonsurgical treatment.
- Shoulder osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis that happens when the cartilage on the end of your bones wears down, damaging your joints and causing pain, tenderness and stiffness. People who do physical repetitive work over time may develop osteoarthritis in any effected joint, including the shoulder. Although your doctor may attempt nonsurgical treatments to the arthritis, many people eventually need surgery.
- Superior Labrum Anterior and Posterior (SLAP) Tear. A SLAP tear occurs where the biceps tendon attaches to the top of the shoulder. If you have a SLAP tear, you will notice a change in your range of motion and pain when you lift overhead or try to hold your shoulder a certain way. You may also feel a grinding or popping. Most doctors treat SLAP tears with physical therapy and medicine before recommending arthroscopic surgery.
- Dislocated shoulder. Your shoulder can dislocate if the ball of the upper arm bone pops out of the shoulder socket. Generally, this only happens with some force, say from a fall or a blow. Your shoulder is your most mobile joint, which puts it at risk. A dislocated shoulder is very painful and usually visibly out of place. You should never let anyone other than a doctor put it back in place.
Shoulder injuries can be painful and interfere with your daily living, as well as your sleep. If you developed a shoulder injury, you should see your doctor right away to help you determine whether it was caused by your work. You may be entitled to worker’s compensation.