Last Updated: 1/4/2023

From farming and agriculture to painting and construction, Des Moines features many industries that require workers perform heavy lifting and reach overhead to complete tasks. Sometimes, the shoulder joint can wear down, especially after prolonged use, and workers may suffer shoulder impingement syndrome.

Shoulder decompression is a type of surgery used to treat shoulder impingement syndrome. Under Iowa law, workers who undergo this procedure – or any other – to treat a work-related injury are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to cover their treatment.

Treating Shoulder Impingement with Decompression Surgery

Shoulder impingement is when a bone in your shoulder rubs (impinges) against the tendons and the bursa in the shoulder, creating pain. Ultimately, patients may experience rotator cuff tendonitis or bursitis.

When a patient first complains of symptoms related to shoulder pain, doctors attempt to manage the condition using some combination of:

  • rest;
  • pain medications;
  • anti-inflammatory drugs; and
  • physical therapy.

Doctors may then turn to shoulder decompression surgery if the first course of treatment doesn't manage the pain sufficiently. Surgeons often perform these procedures arthroscopically. A surgeon makes a very small incision and inserts a tiny camera to survey the extent of the damage. The doctor then shaves down part of the bone causing the impingement.

The surgery can be performed through open surgery as well, but arthroscopic treatment leads to a shorter recovery time. Arthroscopic decompression patients usually see their pain subside within a few weeks of the surgery. Recovery from the open procedure can take several months.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Shoulder Decompression

Workers’ compensation provides benefits for injuries that happen at work or are the result of the work environment. Cumulative injuries, like many shoulder impingement cases, are compensable. There must be direct causation between the work conditions and the injury for it to be compensable.

Workers may receive medical benefits if their injuries qualify for workman’s compensation. Medical expenses are paid in full. This includes costs for shoulder decompression as well as any other costs like medication or hospitalization required to treat the injury.

It may also cover any physical therapy necessary to rehabilitate the shoulder. Workers who suffer shoulder impingement may also qualify for disability benefits if they meet certain requirements.

Proving a Workers’ Comp Claim

An employer's workers’ compensation insurance company may dispute that the shoulder impingement was the result of work conditions. In those cases, workers can appeal to the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner (IWCC).

To prove a claim you can use:

  • medical records;
  • testimony; and
  • expert opinions.

It's a good idea for workers to have an attorney help them prepare their claim. Walker, Billingsley & Bair in Des Moines can help injured workers secure the benefits to which they are entitled under Iowa law. Call us at (888) 435-9886 or visit our contact page to make an appointment with an attorney so you can discuss your case and eligibility for workers’ comp.

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Corey Walker
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With over 28 years legal experience, Corey has been recognized for his work as an injury attorney.