What causes shoulder injuries in the trucking industry? What is the impact of these injuries on the driver's ability to safely operate their vehicle? Truckers are particularly vulnerable to shoulder injuries as the job often requires lifting heavy loads, tightening tarps, cranking gears, and other manual tasks that can cause extensive strain on the muscles, tendons, and bones that make up the shoulder. These injuries can be the result of sudden trauma from an accident, or cumulative trauma that builds up over the course of a career. When shoulder injuries are present, they can limit the driver's range of motion and their ability to perform the routine tasks required to operate the vehicle. Next to back injuries, shoulder injuries are the second most common injury truck drivers experience.
Rotator cuff injuries are common within the trucking industry and truck drivers have a statistically significant higher rate of shoulder injuries than the overall population. The rotator cuff connects the shoulder blade to the shoulder joint. Repetitive strain of this joint via lifting, pulling, tugging, or pushing can cause excessive wear on the tendons and muscles of the joint. As these break down, it makes it possible for the shoulder to "slip out of joint." It can also make it possible for bone to connect with bone which can cause pieces to break off or allow for the formation of bone spurs. When this happens, it can cause significant pain and discomfort with even the slightest movement. This often requires surgical repair and the number of surgical repairs conducted from 1996 to 2006 increased 141% due in large part to technological advances and the use of both open and arthroscopic surgical techniques that restore an individual's range of motion.
Data from the US Department of Labor gathered in 2014 showed that 35.5% of truck drivers have musculoskelatal disorders, and 15.7% have shoulder injuries. Workers who suffer shoulder injuries require an average of 26 days away from work to heal. Moreover, shoulder injuries are often costlier to treat and can result in medical bills that are 20% higher than the cost of treating other forms of back injuries.
While many shoulder injuries are the result of repetitive trauma and poor ergonomics, motor vehicle accidents can cause sudden, sharp jolts to the shoulder which can cause considerable injuries. In a motor vehicle accident, shoulders can be stopped suddenly by seatbelts, or if unrestrained, slammed against steering wheels, windows, the dash, etc. This can cause bone fractures, dislocation of the joint, and deep, soft-tissue injuries. Injuries caused by accidents often involve damage to the clavicle, scapula, proximal humerus, as well as the ligaments and tendons that connect to these bones.
Approximately 1 in every 4 car accident survivors can expect to feel significant shoulder pain following a motor vehicle accident. These types of shoulder injuries can require a combination of both non-surgical therapy and surgical treatment to correct. During the interim between shoulder injury and healing, truck drivers may experience limited range of motion or other detrimental side-effects that can limit their ability to work, operate the vehicle, or safely perform routine maintenance tasks.
Brad Pistotnik Law represents truck drivers who have suffered a shoulder injury in Kansas City, Goodland, Wichita, and elsewhere in Kansas, Nebraska, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Missouri. Truck drivers can pursue compensation to cover lost wages, medical care, adaptive aids, and long-term therapy that is often required to recover from a shoulder injury.
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