What Injuries Can Cause Shoulder Replacement Surgery?

Workers' compensation for shoulder replacement surgery.

Shoulder injuries are common in physically demanding jobs, like construction and manufacturing, but they can happen to any worker at any time. A nurse can dislocate her shoulder while transferring a patient; a delivery driver may tear his rotator cuff when lifting a heavy or bulky object, and assembly line workers are at constant risk for overuse injuries.

Regardless of the cause, employees who suffer shoulder injuries on the job are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to cover the costs of recovery. With a severe injury, a worker may require shoulder replacement surgery to find relief from the pain and to restore motion, strength, and function.

Common shoulder injuries in the workplace

There are many ways a worker can injure his or her shoulder on the job. Repetitive movements, heavy lifting, strenuous overhead work, pushing or pulling, falling on the shoulder, and blunt trauma to the joint can all cause pain. Decreased range of motion, numbness, tingling, and stiffness are also symptoms of a shoulder injury. Fractures and rotator cuff tears are two of the most common shoulder injuries in the workplace. Other shoulder injuries include:

  • Shoulder dislocation
  • Peripheral nerve impairment
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Severe shoulder strain
  • Impingement
  • Tendonitis
  • Bursitis
  • Overuse injury

What injuries can cause shoulder replacement surgery?

There are several injuries that cause severe shoulder pain and loss of mobility, leading workers to consider shoulder replacement surgery.


Also called degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that cushions the bones of the shoulder wears down, causing them to rub against one another. This condition can become aggravated and accelerated by a job requiring repetitive motion.

Post-traumatic arthritis

This condition can follow a serious shoulder injury. A fracture of the bones in the shoulder, tears of the shoulder tendons or ligaments, or a dislocated shoulder can damage the cartilage over time, causing pain and limiting function.

Rotator cuff arthropathy

If a worker suffers a rotator cuff injury and doesn’t seek treatment, he or she may develop rotator cuff arthropathy. This condition can cause changes in the shoulder joint that damage the protective cartilage and lead to arthritis.

Severe shoulder fracture

A workplace injury that leads to a severe fracture can also be a reason for shoulder replacement surgery. If the head of the upper arm bone is shattered, it can be difficult to repair. In this case, total joint replacement may be the best option.

When is shoulder replacement surgery necessary?

Some shoulder injuries heal with rest, ice and heat, activity modification, physical therapy, and medication. When an injury doesn’t respond to these methods or if it’s left untreated for a long time, shoulder replacement surgery may be necessary. For a worker with severe shoulder pain and loss of motion, shoulder replacement surgery can provide tremendous relief and may even allow him or her to return to work.

Have you suffered a shoulder injury at work? Contact a workers’ compensation attorney.

Shoulder injuries on the job are extremely common. Heavy lifting, overhead working, and repetitive motions can all contribute to injuries that cause a breakdown of cartilage in the shoulder joint. If you’re experiencing shoulder pain as a result of your job duties, don’t wait for your symptoms to get worse before you file for workers’ compensation. At the Law Office of Gerald Brody & Associates, we’ve helped thousands of San Diego employees pursue their legal rights to medical treatment and disability benefits. Give us a call at (619) 345-5317 to see what we can do for you.