Rotator Cuff Surgery Recovery: Long-Term Care and Implications for Workers' Compensation
12 Oct

Rotator Cuff Surgery Recovery: Long-Term Care and Implications for Workers' Compensation

When someone suffers a rotator cuff injury, the path to recovery can be long and taxing. Often, workers who sustain such injuries on the job require surgery to repair the damage. For these individuals, understanding their long-term medical care needs is crucial for their recovery and determining appropriate compensation.

Being well-versed in these considerations is imperative as a workers' compensation lawyer. Drawing upon findings from reputable medical journals, we’ll delve deeper into the long-term care requirements of post-rotator cuff surgery.

Understanding Rotator Cuff Injuries and Surgery

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint, keeping the head of the upper arm bone firmly within the shoulder's shallow socket. An injury to this region can severely impede an individual's ability to use their arm. According to the Hospital for Special Surgery, “Rotator cuff conditions are very common, affecting two to four million or more people in the United States every year.”

Surgery is recommended for a full-thickness tear or patients who have failed conservative treatment. An orthopedic surgeon reattaches the tendon to the humerus (upper arm bone) using an absorbable suture anchor to repair a torn rotator cuff. The surgery’s success depends on how well the interface between the tendon and bone heals.

Post-Surgery: The Immediate Phase

Following surgery, the first few weeks primarily focus on pain management and minimizing shoulder movement to allow the repaired tendons to heal. Once patients are discharged, they are advised to apply ice to their treated shoulder. Pain reduction is enhanced through anti-inflammatory medications and oral drugs, typically including some form of pain reliever.

Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation

After the immediate postoperative period, rehabilitation becomes the focal point.

According to Med Diagnostics, physical therapy sessions are designed to:

  • Restore Range of Motion: Initially, passive exercises (where the therapist moves the arm) are used, eventually transitioning to active exercises.
  • Strengthen: Once healing progresses, exercises to strengthen the rotator cuff and shoulder blade muscles are introduced.
  • Help with Functional Training: Custom to the patient's daily activities and, if applicable, job-related tasks.

The duration of physical therapy can vary, but it’s not uncommon for it to last several months.

Long-Term Medical Considerations

Even with successful surgery, some patients may experience chronic pain. Long-term pain management strategies may be necessary, such as medication or additional therapies. Some patients might not regain their full range of motion, impacting daily activities and job functions.

There's a risk of re-injury, especially for workers who return to physically demanding jobs. Modifications to job tasks or transitioning to less demanding roles might be necessary. It's essential for recovering patients to maintain regular check-ups to monitor progress and address any complications that may arise.

Implications for Workers' Compensation

Understanding the long-term medical care needs of rotator cuff surgery patients is vital for workers' compensation lawyers, especially because delays can stall medical care and cause the injury to develop further, according to NBC News.

Continuous therapy, potential future surgeries, and long-term pain management can accumulate significant expenses. Extended rehabilitation or job modifications may impact a worker’s earning capacity. Workers who can't return to their previous jobs or struggle with chronic issues may be eligible for permanent disability benefits.

Rotator cuff injuries requiring surgery can impose significant long-term medical care needs on affected workers. By referencing insights from medical journals, workers' compensation lawyers can be better equipped to advocate for the rights and needs of their clients, ensuring they receive the compensation they deserve.

At Carrillo Injury Law, we work with injured clients to determine the best legal options for workplace accidents like rotator cuffs. Schedule a free consultation today by calling 352-371-4000 or emailing us at