Phoenix Torn Rotator Cuff Attorneys
Rotator cuff tears are a very common injury in car accidents, especially in accidents where the person has been twisted and torn around, such as a T-bone accident. Also many people have torn rotator cuffs from slipping and falling or trying to catch themselves as they are going down to try to prevent their fall.
The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles and several tendons that cover the upper arm bone (humerus). The tearing of a rotator cuff can be caused by several factors. Most often a person tears their rotator cuff in a traumatic injury. A torn rotator cuff can also occur at the same time of another injury such as a fracture or dislocation. A torn rotator cuff is a widespread injury seen in people that lift weights, play tennis or baseball. Those that have falling on an outstretched arm often experience a rotator cuff injury. This injury most commonly occurs among adults around the age of 40. Although it comes from many activities, it is very common to see in car accidents because of the twist and turn motion.
Rotator cuff symptoms from an accident may just feel like a persistent nagging pain. Sometimes there maybe swelling and many times the person will feel an irritation to the shoulder. The injured individual most likely will think that the injury will go away, but a torn rotator cuff will not just go away. In fact, if it is not taken care of it is possible it will get worse over time. The most common symptoms of knowing if you have a torn rotator cuff or not is paying attention to if you can lift your arm over your shoulder height without pain, if you can lift your arm without pain, weakness when rotating the arm, and cracking sensations when moving the arm into certain positions.
People with a torn rotator cuff often feel pain in the front of the shoulder radiating down their arm. Initially the pain may feel like it is subsiding but it will always be persistent, like a nagging type of feeling. It may not necessarily feel like pain when you are just sitting around, but when you go to use your arm, it is likely that you will feel a weakness or pain at that time. The pain might be light and can be subdued with over the counter medication such as ibuprofen. Over time the frequency of pain may increase and become more severe.
A torn rotator cuff injury can be diagnosed by symptoms and by a physical examination. The examination may include an X-Ray, MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), or an ultrasound. The doctor will measure the range of motion in several directions and the strength of the arm. A doctor may also examine the neck to check for a pinched nerve or any other injuries that could be causing the pain. X-Ray’s are a very good way for doctors to see the initial damage; however an MRI can show a more detailed picture of the injury.
Treatment options for a torn rotator cuff involve non surgical and surgical alternatives. Non surgical options include limited overhead activity of the arm, a sling, anti-inflammatory medication, steroid injections, and physical therapy. If non surgical options are not enough a doctor may prescribe surgery depending on the size, shape, and location of the tear. An Arthroscopic Repair involves fiber optic and pencil sized instruments inserted through small incisions. Mini- Open Repair allows surgeons to complete the entire surgery with one small 4 to 6 centimeter incision. The final type of surgery is Open Surgical Repair which is used when the tear is large or complex.
After surgery the arm is immobilized to recover and prevent further tearing. Complete recovery takes several months and begins with daily physical therapy. Most patients have adequate range of motion and strength around four to six months. Only 10% of patients who have rotator cuff surgery experience complications. Complications can include nerve injury, infection, deltoid detachment, stiffness, and tendon re-tears.
Many people will have surgery when they have a rotator cuff tear and these surgeries appear very successful. We have had many clients who have had rotator cuff tears and surgery thereafter and they are very happy that they underwent surgery. Most people who undergo surgery do not have a problem with the surgery, it's the physical therapy after the surgery that most people find painful. Physical therapy after surgery can be very arduous but it is necessary with the healing process.
If you are involved in an accident in Phoenix and feel you have a rotator cuff injury, it is important to make sure that your medical providers document your concerns and pain in your shoulder area. Sometimes injured victims do not relay the pain in their shoulder to their medical provider and months can go by before the patient lets the doctor know of their persistent pain in their shoulder. It is important to let you provider know right away if you feel pain in your shoulder area as otherwise the insurance company will not agree that your shoulder pain was caused as a result of the negligent act of their insured. Not having gaps in treatment and being able to show causation is very important in a negligence claim. In fact, it can be the key to whether or not an attorney can be successful in your claim. For more information, please contact a Phoenix injury lawyer at Breyer Law Offices, P.C. at (602) 267-1280.
- Torn Rotator Cuff Diagram
- Questions and Answers about Shoulder Problems (NIH)
- Rotator Cuff Tears - American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons