ROTATOR CUFF TEARS CAUSED BY SKIING COLLISION 

A rotator cuff tear happens when muscles or tendons in the shoulder are damaged, such as in a skier to skier collision. When hit from behind this type of injury can occur when someone uses his/her arm to brace before hitting the ground. It can also occur from a direct impact to the shoulder.

Unfortunately, a rotator cuff tear can cause more than just pain. These injuries can significantly impact a person’s range of motion. It may even result in disability. Simple tasks such as brushing teeth and combing hair can be difficult or impossible.

Overview of a Rotator Cuff Tear

There are two types of tears: partial and complete. A partial tear includes soft tissue damage but the tendon hasn’t completely separated. A complete tear, of course, includes a full tear of the tendon.
 

Oftentimes an acute tear, such as in a snowboarding collision, is accompanied by other injuries. Most common are dislocated shoulders and fractured collarbones.
 

The symptoms of a rotator cuff tear vary and while pain is the most common, some people experience a crackling/snapping sensation when moving the arm. The arm may also feel weak and be difficult to lift. Certain movements may cause more discomfort, especially when lifting and lowering the arm. Since it’s usually painful to lie on the injured shoulder, sleep is compromised.
 

A shoulder injury can impact one’s ability to perform typical daily tasks, such as getting dressed basic activities of dialing living. The person might not be able to work or drive. Even with treatment, recovery may be long. Extended time out of work is a real possibility.
 

In addition to any wage loss and medical bills, shoulder injury victims can claim all other related damages. Pain and suffering, reduced quality of life and emotional distress are examples.
 

Treating a Rotator Cuff Tear

Treating the injury generally starts with noninvasive measures and sometimes it will heal (especially in a partial tear) with:
 

  • rest;

  • ice;

  • medication for pain; and

  • limiting activities

  • physical therapy.
     

Surgery is the next step but before considering surgery, many doctors try steroid injections (aids in reducing inflammation in the shoulder) and/or physical therapy. Exercises to strengthen the shoulder and restore mobility may help improve range of motion. It is important to choose an upper extremity orthopedic surgeon that works with top notch physical therapists. PT can be long and painful but may help you avoid surgery.
 

If these noninvasive forms of treatment and PT doesn’t restore adequate function and reduce pain or the tear is especially severe, surgery may be the only option. Although it usually relieves pain and restores function of the shoulder, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes the person will still experience ongoing pain, weakness and reduced strength in the shoulder. Recovery can also be quite extensive after surgery. Many people are required to continue a home exercise program for the rest of their lives. A hit from a careless skier or snowboarder can easily result in injuries that must be managed for a lifetime.
 

If you or a friend or a loved one has been involved in a skier collision or snowboarding collision and have questions I encourage to you contact me. Consultations are always free. Call me at 303-300-5060 or email: dj@theskilawyer.com.