Shoulder Injuries and Pennsylvania workers compensation

shoulderI see many shoulder injuries in my workers compensation practice.  These types of injuries generally are centered around warehouses and distribution centers, trucking terminals, nursing care facilities, and manufacturing type facilities.

These type of work-related injuries can be specific type of injuries or repetitive type injuries.  Injuries to the shoulder can happen in specific events, such as lifting items overhead and feeling a ‘pop’ or feeling immediate pain in the shoulder area when pushing or pulling something heavy, or falling directly on to the shoulder.  I also see these types of injuries in nursing homes where certified nursing assistant and LPNs are lifting patients or trying to stop a patient from falling.   We see these types of injuries often.   Given the amount of distribution and assembly lien production facilities up and down the Interstate 81 corridor, from Greencastle, to Chambersburg, to Shippensburg, to Carlisle and beyond, these type of injuries will likely be on the rise.

However, not all work-related shoulder injuries occur with a specific event.  We also see injuries that occur in the shoulder due to repetitive job tasks and overuse.  These types of injuries are frequently denied by the employer/insurance carrier.

So what are common shoulder injuries that occur at work?

Rotator cuff tears are common in  both lifting, falling, and repetitive use injuries.  These types of injuries are extremely difficult for injured workers.  They are painful and many times lead to a surgery or two.  Partial tears usually lead to surgery is conservative treatment fails, such as physical therapy, injections, and medications.  Full thick tears almost also lead to surgery.    Rotator cuff tears are a very common injury I see in my practice.

Impingement and adhesive capsulitis are two common conditions I see in my practice.  Impingement system is more common in older workers, and is usually related to bursitis and rotator cuff pathology.  Overhead activity of the shoulder and repetitive activity are risk factors for shoulder impingement syndrome as related to work-relatedness.  Adhesive capsulitis is also known as frozen shoulder.  Symptoms of this condition are pain and stiffness in the shoulder.  This condition can also occur after shoulder surgery.  

Other injuries that occur are labral tears, dislocations, instability, and aggravation of pre-existing shoulder arthritis.   As related to work injuries, labral tears can occur when an injured workers falls onto an outstretched arm, trying to catch oneself, A direct traumatic blow tot he shoulder, or a sudden pull, such as trying to pull a patient up from falling.   Catching, grinding, and popping in shoulder are common complaints.  The condition also causes a decrease in range of motion and weakness.

Aggravation of arthritis is a big one in workers compensation.  The fact a pre-existing condition exists will usually trigger a denial of workers compensation benefits.   Employers frequently tell injured workers that have a pre-exisiting condition, that there new pain symptoms are not workers compensation eligible because of pre-existing arthritis.  Statements like “you’ve always had that condition” are used to discourage injured workers from pursuing their rights under Workers Compensation.  Don’t fall for it.  Aggravation of pre-existing conditions are seperate and distinct work injures that can be compensable under the Act.

It is important that if you have a shoulder injury to seek legal counsel.  Many times these injuries take significant time to recover.  Some times these injuries do not allow an injured worker to ever return to their pre-injury job.  That is precisely why it is important for you to seek an experienced workers compensation attorney.


If you injured your shoulder at work or have a pre-existing condition that has been aggravated at work, do not hesitate to protect your workers compensation rights.   Call Mooney & Associates today at 1-877-9632-4656 for your FREE CONSULTATION.  Even if your employer has accepted your shoulder work injury, it is FREE to sit down and chat with us about your work injury and for us to make sure your right stay protected.  Even with an accepted injury, injured workers with shoulder injuries eventually end up in workers compensation litigation.

Mooney & Associates has twelve office locations to make the FREE CONSULTATION convenient for you.

Mark Buterbaugh

Attorney representing injured workers and Social Security Disability clients in Pennsylvania and Maryland.