Attorney David J. King


The risks of work-related shoulder injuries

On Behalf of | May 19, 2023 | Workplace Injuries

You may not think about your shoulder much, but it’s a vital part of your body and its functions. Shoulders need to be mobile enough to allow a wide range of movement for your arms while being stable enough to assist in tasks like pushing, pulling, and lifting objects.

But like any joint, your shoulders can get injured through difficult or repetitive work. Shoulder injuries are some of the more common types of damage you can get from work, costing the worker valuable time and money to treat. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, there were over 67,000 shoulder injuries in 2019 – and about 40,000 of them caused workers to take about 22 days off from work to recover.

What might feel like a minor discomfort could be a symptom of a more severe injury. If you’re a worker with a physically intensive role, you must understand the risks of a shoulder injury, and when to file a workers’ compensation claim.

Common work-related shoulder injuries

In general, there are three classifications of shoulder injuries:

  • Instability: A ball and a socket comprise the shoulder joint. A sufficiently strong force on the joint could leave the ball and socket’s connection unstable and make the individual feel like their shoulder is slipping out of place, on top of extreme pain.
  • Impingement: Refers to when shoulder muscles excessively rub against certain parts of the shoulder blade, which usually happens when you raise an arm overhead for a task. Repetitive rubbing could lead to the inflammation of the tendons, or even tearing.
  • Stiffness: A frozen shoulder can develop when a person keeps their shoulder still for an extended period. This is because the connective tissue surrounding the shoulder joint grows thicker, restricting its movement and making it painful to move.

They might not be as apparent as other injuries like fractures and cuts, but these shoulder injuries can be extremely painful to workers while inhibiting their movement.

Signs of a shoulder injury

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you might have a shoulder injury:

  • Difficulty in moving your arm into regular positions
  • A lack of strength in your shoulder
  • Pain whenever your shoulder, arm, or neck moves during work or rest
  • A feeling that your shoulder could pop out of its socket
  • Stiffness in the shoulders

It might be tempting to shrug off minor shoulder pain. Still, medical experts advise against putting off proper injury diagnosis and treatment because your injuries could worsen the longer it goes unaddressed. You should also remember that workers in Iowa have only three days to report a work injury, so you must file a claim for a shoulder injury at once.

While shoulder injuries are real work risks, the state workers’ compensation board could deny your claims for several reasons. The board could reason that your pain is due to arthritis or that your injuries were from outside of work.  This is where you might want a lawyer who can represent you in a hearing over your claims, protect your rights, and ensure that you are awarded enough compensation to treat your shoulder injuries.