Shoulder injuries are very common across a wide range of occupations. The complex nature of the joint itself and the strain of many work conditions can contribute to serious and lasting damage to the shoulder. These injuries can cause disabling pain. Treatments are often complex and time-consuming, causing employees to miss work. Here, we discuss these injuries and how Iowa workers’ compensation benefits may help injured workers obtain the care they need.
Musculoskeletal Disorders Are Common Among Workers
Many shoulder injures fall into the category of musculoskeletal disorders, which are issues that affect muscles, nerves, tendons, and ligaments. These joint, bone, and muscle disorders accounted for nearly one-third of all work-related injury cases across the country in 2015. Common causes of these injuries include:
- Heavy lifting
- Awkward body position or posture
- Repetitive movement
In some cases, the injury is the result of one specific incident, but in many other cases, these injuries develop over time. Due to the incremental nature of some of these injuries, it can be difficult for workers to identify their injuries.
Shoulder Injury Symptoms
Often, workers will ignore some pain and discomfort or attribute it to fatigue. However, shoulder injuries are serious and can have a significant impact on both the professional and personal life. Some frequent shoulder symptoms that should be examined include:
- Loosening: a feeling as if the shoulder could come out of its socket
- Limited range of movement
Common Work-Related Shoulder Injuries and Treatment Options
In some cases, simply modifying the work routine or using assistive technology can reduce the pressure on the joint and improve function. Many times, however, damage is done that must be addressed by a physician. Some of the most common shoulder injuries include:
- Rotator cuff injuries
Treatment options vary from person to person based on the type and severity of the injury. Many injured workers can find relief with minimally invasive options such as ice, pain relievers, rest, or a brace. In other cases, surgery or rehabilitation exercises are necessary. The prognosis for these injuries is similarly varied. Some people will recover after a period of treatment, while others may feel the effects of the injury for months or years.
Iowa Workers’ Compensation Benefits Available to Injured Workers
Many shoulder injuries would make an employee eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Under Iowa law, the system provides medical care and wage replacement for injuries sustained in the course of a job. The benefits can cover…
- Medical care. These benefits include doctor visits, medications, rehabilitation, surgery, medical equipment, and transportation to and from appointments.
- Wage replacement. Wage replacement provides weekly compensation while the employee misses work due to the injury. The amount of compensation depends on a variety of factors, including the time lost from work and the severity of the injury.
Wage Replacement Can Provide Weekly Income for Injured Workers
Iowa is one of the most generous states when it comes to wage replacement for injured workers. Payments are based on the worker’s wages before the injury, and Iowa workers can obtain up to 80 percent of their weekly spendable earnings through the benefits system. The state defines spendable earnings as “the amount remaining after payroll taxes are deducted from gross weekly earnings.”
These payments are scheduled based on the severity of the injury. Some injuries leave the affected employees unable to work at all, while others may allow them to perform some job duties. Additionally, benefits are available for both permanent and temporary injuries. The workers’ compensation system will offer wage replacement during the recovery period for temporary injuries, and it can pay benefits continually for permanent injuries.
Every injury and every worker is unique, so compensation is paid based on each individual situation. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help an employee examine his case and determine what types of compensation may available. Additionally, a lawyer can offer guidance and help gather evidence to support a claim to achieve the maximum amount of compensation.
If you or someone you love has suffered a shoulder injury, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in Iowa, and the dedicated attorneys at the Pothitakis Law Firm may be able to help. Download a free copy of our book, 7 Things You Must Know if You Get Hurt at Work, to learn more about your rights.