Torn rotator cuffs are common work injuries that can result from WEAR and TEAR. The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles connected by tendons to the humerus bone in the shoulder; and, with repetitive stress over time, these muscles and tendons can become worn – eventually to the point that they tear.

However, WEAR and TEAR can lead to various other types of shoulder and upper back injuries as well. As a result, if you are experiencing shoulder pain, it will be important to obtain an accurate diagnosis of your WEAR and TEAR injury. In this article, we discuss the symptoms of torn rotator cuffs as well as the diagnostic tools that doctors use to identify these painful and debilitating injuries.

What Are the Symptoms of a Torn Rotator Cuff?

The primary symptom of a torn rotator cuff is pain in the shoulder. According to the Mayo Clinic, shoulder pain may be symptomatic of a torn rotator cuff if:

  • The pain feels like “a dull ache deep in the shoulder;”
  • The pain makes it difficult for you to sleep;
  • The pain makes it difficult to touch the top of your head or reach behind your back; and,
  • The pain is accompanied by weakness in the arm.

Healthline describes additional symptoms of a torn rotator cuff as including a limited range of motion and tenderness, in addition to deep aching pain and notes that the weakness caused by a torn rotator cuff may become progressively worse over time. According to Healthline, “If you’ve been experiencing any of these symptoms for longer than a week or lose function in your arm, [you should] see [a] doctor.”

If left untreated, rotator cuff tears can potentially lead to more serious complications. As the Mayo Clinic explains:

“Without treatment, rotator cuff problems may lead to permanent loss of motion or weakness and may result in progressive degeneration of the shoulder joint. Although resting your shoulder is necessary for your recovery, keeping your shoulder immobilized for a prolonged time can cause the connective tissue enclosing the joint to become thickened and tight (frozen shoulder).”

If you are experiencing symptoms of a rotator cuff injury and you believe that your current condition may be work-related, it is important to note that you must see an approved doctor in order to preserve your workers’ compensation eligibility. As a result, you should report your injury to your employer as soon as possible; and, when seeing a “company doctor,” you should try to describe your symptoms with as much detail as possible.

How Do Doctors Diagnose Torn Rotator Cuffs?

Doctors use a number of different tests to diagnose rotator cuff tears. When you see a doctor, he or she may also ask questions about your employment, personal background, and family history, as there are a number of risk factors that can increase the chances of suffering a rotator cuff tear. These include a genetic predisposition to muscle tears, being over the age of 60, and working in an occupation that requires repetitive arm motions – in particular, motions that require you to reach above your head.

In addition to assessing these and other risk factors, the diagnostic tests doctors use to identify torn rotator cuffs include:

  • Physical Examination – Your doctor may perform a physical exam to test your arm strength and range of motion. This can not only help to pinpoint the symptoms of a rotator cuff tear, but also to rule out other possible diagnoses such as arthritis, bone fractures, and pinched nerves.
  • X-Ray Imaging – X-rays provide images of your bones. While a muscle or tendon tear will not show up on an x-ray, the image might show a bone spur (which can cause a tear) or lead to an alternate diagnosis.
  • Ultrasound Imaging – An ultrasound can provide an image of the muscles and tendons in the shoulder, and ultrasound imaging can be performed while the shoulder is in motion in order to examine the muscles and tendons from all angles.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – MRI machines provide comprehensive and detailed images of the muscles and tendons in the shoulder, and can help to identify the size and severity of the tear.

Have You Suffered a Rotator Cuff Tear at Work in New Jersey?

At Petro Cohen, P.C., we help workers in New Jersey obtain workers’ compensation benefits for WEAR and TEAR injuries. In fact, the law firm has focused on these types of injuries for many years and has the experience to guide you with your case to ensure you receive the proper medical care you need and the compensation you deserve.

The award-winning workers’ compensation team includes Frank Petro, who is a Founding Partner for the firm and heads Petro Cohen’s Workers’ Comp Department, as well as Suzanne Holz Meola, Terri Hiles, and Daniel Rosenthal.  Together, our New Jersey workers’ comp attorneys have more than 100 years of combined experience, having successfully handled thousands of litigated workers’ comp cases throughout New Jersey.

Frank Petro is widely respected throughout the region as one of the top workers’ compensation attorneys in the state of New Jersey. Mr. Petro is certified by the New Jersey Supreme Court as a Workers’ Compensation Law Attorney and has held this certification since its inception in 1998.  This is the highest specialty certification available to workers’ compensation lawyers in New Jersey.

He has been named in Best Lawyers in America® since 1995 and is the only attorney in the Atlantic City metro who has this distinction. Mr. Petro also has  been selected to the New Jersey Super Lawyer® list every year since 2005, an honor that no more than five percent of the State’s lawyers receive.  Additionally, he has an “AV” rating from the world’s leading lawyer referral service, Martindale-Hubbell.

If you are experiencing symptoms of a rotator cuff tear or other type of WEAR and TEAR injury and would like to speak with an attorney before filing a report with your employer, we encourage you to call us directly at 888-675-7607 or contact us online for a free consultation.