Shoulder injury compensation claims


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Shoulder injuries of any description can be uncomfortable and often debilitating, which can take some time to fully recover from; depending on the area, type and extent of the injury and the clinical prognosis.

The pain which can in many cases manifest as a result of a shoulder injury can potentially effect everything you do, from walking and sitting to even sleeping. And if you fail to get enough sleep then this is counter-productive to your shoulder injury making a speedy recovery, because not only do you become fatigued, but so do your muscles; which subsequently make it more difficult for the injured shoulder to rebuild itself post-injury.

Our shoulders are constructed from the three predominant parts which are habitually exposed (and more susceptible) to injury; namely the bones which comprise the shoulder – not least the ‘scapula’ (which is commonly referred to as the ‘shoulder blade’), the ‘humerus’ and the ‘clavicle’ – the rotator cuff and the brachial plexus.

With regards to the latter two (firstly the ‘rotator cuff’) contains the muscles, ligament and tendons and is a pivotal part of the shoulder which joins it to the upper arm, whilst the brachial plexus is made up by a collection of nerves that run from the spine and into the neck and arm (whiplash injuries commonly feature damage to the nerves within the brachial plexus).

Shoulders can also be more prone to instability because the ball of the upper arm is larger than the shoulder socket that holds it; therefore to remain in a stable (or normal position), the shoulder must be anchored by muscles, tendons and ligaments. Because the shoulder has a propensity to be unstable, it’s commonly cited in many physical/mobility issues of a clinical nature. These can readily include the likes of (relative innocuous) sprains and strains through to dislocations, separations, tendinitis, bursitis, torn rotator cuffs, frozen shoulder, fractures and arthritis to list but a few examples of when shoulders ‘go bad’ so to speak.

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What are the most common forms of shoulder injury?

With direct regards to the various types/medical definitions of shoulder injuries, we have compiled below some of the injuries more commonly associated with shoulder damage, of both a transient and more permanent nature; as routinely acknowledged by the healthcare sector here in the UK. They include;

Shoulder instability – Young people and athletes are more prone to suffering from shoulder instability from a broader perspective, and the condition occurs if and when muscles and ligaments that hold the shoulder together are stretched beyond their normal physical limitations, resulting in this general instability.

For younger people, this condition may be a normal part of growth and development, as by and large shoulders often stiffen or tighten with age. In terms of those who regularly participate in sporting pursuits, shoulder instability is more often than not caused by certain motions used in the process of playing the game, notably any action which requires the raising of arms above the head to release a ball or swing a racket of some description; while collisions which are part and parcel of contact sports also play their part in triggering shoulder instability injuries.

Effectively, any motions which place a significant amount of force on the shoulder and which can, potentially stretch the shoulder ligaments over a period of time. It can cause pain that comes on either quickly or over time, a feeling that the shoulder is loose, or a weakness in the arm. Treatment tend to include rest, physical therapy or surgery.

Shoulder separation (or sprain) – This happens when the ligaments that are responsible for holding the aforementioned clavicle to the roof of the shoulder, tear. If this occurs, the clavicle is pushed out of place and forms a bump at the top of the shoulder.

Sprains often happen during a fall, when your hand (or arm) is outstretched to instinctively break a fall, or when you fall on a hard surface. When the sprain happens, it usually causes severe pain, a misshapen shoulder and decreased shoulder movement pretty much straight away, with treatment recommended largely depending on the severity of the sprain.

To help decrease pain and swelling, individuals are often advised to apply ice right after the injury, and to keep the arm in a sling immediately thereafter so as to limit the movement of the shoulder and ultimately encourage the ligaments to heal. This is followed by physical therapy exercises, although in some more extreme cases a surgical procedure may be the only way of curing the problem/relieving the ongoing pain.

Shoulder dislocation – This particular injury presents in the direct aftermath of falls (or blows received) and which cause the top of the victim’s arm bone to come out of the shoulder socket. In the event of the ligaments which are normally tasked with holding the shoulder muscles to the bones tear (and consequently are unable to maintain keeping the joint together), then the shoulder is classed as being dislocated at that juncture. Falling onto an outstretched hand, arm or the shoulder itself, or a violent twisting can all contribute to a shoulder dislocation, whilst the primary symptom is (unsurprisingly) the registering of pain in the shoulder that becomes worse with movement.

To treat a dislocation, the application of ice is again suggested as soon as possible post-injury occurring, with a view to decreasing both the pain levels and swelling (caused by bleeding around the joint). Typically within 15 – 30 minutes of the injury taking place, the joint will become painful and swollen. A dislocated shoulder needs urgent medical care, and healthcare providers will treat dislocations by facilitating gentle traction to pull the shoulder back into place. When the shoulder pops out of the socket repeatedly, it’s called recurrent instability; this can be treated with surgery to repair the torn ligaments.

Frozen shoulder – This occurs when the sleeve surrounding the shoulder (the ‘capsule’) swells and thickens, and presents with what sufferers describe as an ‘extreme stiffness’. Although it can happen at any age, frozen shoulders have a habit of striking body blows to those in the 40 – 60-years age range more than other demographics according to stats, while the actual causes aren’t fully understood.

Frozen shoulder also has a tendency to affect people with diabetes, thyroid disease, heart disease and/or Parkinson’s Disease, and has a further propensity to happen if the shoulder has been immobile for a period of time. With regards to main symptoms, the most reported one is the inability to move the shoulder in any direction without suffering varying degrees of pain. Treatment can be over-the-counter prescription medicine, cortisone shots or physical therapy.

Rotator cuff tear – The rotator cuff lies within a group of four muscles of the upper arm which systematically allow you to raise and rotate the arm. The muscles are attached to the bones by tendons, and should the tendons tear, the humerus can’t move as freely in the socket; subsequently making it more difficult to manoeuvre the arm up or away from the body. As people age (and ergo are less active), tendons start to degenerate and lose strength, and it’s this weakening which has been clinically observed as often a pre-cursor to a rotator cuff tear.

That said, the majority of rotator cuff injuries happen to middle-aged or older adults who already have shoulder problems, while younger people don’t get away scott free when it comes to rotator cuff tears, and in this age group are more commonly caused by overuse; or if the shoulder has a poor blood supply, which in turn makes it harder for the tendons to repair and maintain themselves. The rotator cuff tendons can be injured or torn by trying to lift a very heavy object with an extended arm.

It can also happen from falling, or by trying to catch a heavy falling object, as well as during playing sports which necessitate the repetitive raising of a shoulder to complete a specific move/part of the accepted gameplay. Symptoms of a torn rotator cuff include tenderness and soreness in the shoulder when using the shoulder, while if the tendon has ruptured, you may not be able to raise the arm at all. Treatment depends on the severity of the injury, and providing that the tear isn’t complete then a healthcare practitioner may suggest RICE (for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation). They may also prescribe a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) to manage/control the pain.

Slap tear – This generally occurs due to sports related activity.

Overuse/strains – Any sudden increase in activity can place great stress on the shoulders and lead to a loss of flexibility. This is a common problem in middle age, especially among people who don’t exercise regularly, but go out every now and then for an intense sport. Despite being charcaterized by the onset of pain and inconvenience, overuse problems can often be treated with rest, pain-controlling medication and stretching exercises.

Nerve blockages – Damage to the brachial plexus can result in severe pain.

What are the main causes of shoulder injuries?

Shoulder injuries are typically caused by impact accidents or by heavy lifting and excessive movement. As such they are commonly caused by road traffic accidents, slips and trips and heavy lifting if occurring in the workplace, while otherwise sports-related environments (as discussed above) are equally as universally mentioned in this capacity.

Shoulder pain can also be caused by bad posture (for instance when using a computer) or while doing repetitive manual work over a long period of time, as well as being caused by a previous and unrelated minor injury or underlying health condition.

I’ve heard that resting your shoulder in the aftermath of injuring it is the best course of action. Is this true?

Resting the shoulder is probably the most important part of treatment, yes, but is by no means the be all and end all; as once the initial pain has subsided it’s vital that you begin a programme of physical therapy to encourage and ultimately regain shoulder movement.

One of the many myths for people with shoulder aches and pains is that you must rest your injured shoulder until it completely heals before resuming activity again. Nothing could be further from the truth in actual fact, as when we rest our muscles they risk becoming soft, setting them up for further injury. While to some extent you must rest your injury, you can’t stop working out completely.

Usually shoulder problems are treated with RICE, which is an acronym for ‘Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation’, which should be adopted in tandem with a GP/physiotherapist-instructed exercise regime thereafter.

With reference to the treatment of shoulder injuries, the following routines are often recommended, however to reiterate; they must ALWAYS be given the green light to by a healthcare practitioner and depending on the type/extent of your shoulder injury from which an individual is in the recovery phase. They’ll also be tailor-made to that patient’s physical requirements at the time.

Here are some easy/rudimentary shoulder exercises that you can do to strengthen your shoulder muscles and prevent injuries from a pro-active perspective, which will help prevent injuries from occurring in the first place;

Basic shoulder strengthening – Attach elastic tubing to a doorknob at home. Gently pull the elastic tubing toward your body. Hold for a count of five. Repeat 5 times with each arm and aim to perform twice a day

Wall push-ups – Stand facing a wall with your hands on the wall and your feet shoulder-width apart. Slowly perform a push-up. Complete 5 reps, holding for a count of 5. Perform twice a day

Shoulder press-ups – Sit upright in a chair with armrest, with your feet touching the floor. Use your arms to slowly rise off the chair. Hold for a count of 5 and repeat 5 times. Perform twice a day

How to make a shoulder injury compensation claim

If you have suffered a shoulder injury that wasn’t your fault, then you could be entitled to make a claim for compensation; providing of course that it followed an accident which is considered to be the ‘legal fault’ of another party (culpable individual/company/organisation/authority/etc).

In this situation you might be entitled to pursue shoulder injury compensation which will include pain and suffering for the physical injury itself, together with the accounting for any financial losses which occurred as a direct result of your injury (lost income, medical expenses, travel expenses, rehabilitation costs, etc…). In terms of financial settlements and claims payouts, this would be judged on case-by-case episodes, and depending on numerous variables, so it’s near impossible to envisage certain amounts.

What we can tell you though is the approximate, ball-park figures at this stage, which are, roughly, as beneath:

Minor muscular and tendon injuries claim pay-outs – Injuries to the muscles, tendons and ligaments in the shoulder (rotator cuff injuries) with pain which is fully resolved within 1 year will lead to a shoulder injury claim amounts of up to £3,100

Symptoms of up to 2 years compensation settlements – If the injuries described at number 1 above – last for between 1 to 2 years you could expect a compensation settlement to be calculated between £3,100 – £5,600

Symptoms of a frozen shoulder injury which last for no more than 2 years – You can expect average compensation pay-outs of between £5,600 – £9,100

Serious shoulder injury average compensation pay-outs – Dislocations to the shoulder, fractures to the shoulder blade and injured nerves in the brachial plexus causing pain in the arms and neck will lead to average compensation compensation pay-out amounts of anywhere between £9,000 – £34,000

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