Shoulder pain may be the result of shoulder impingement syndrome, for which workers who do repetitive lifting and overhead reaching at work may be at risk, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). Distal clavicle excisions are a type of surgery used to treat this condition. The procedure is covered by workers’ comp, and if Des Moines workers have trouble with their employer's insurance provider, they have legal recourse to seek fair benefits.
Distal Clavicle Excisions
Distal clavicle excisions are surgical procedures where a surgeon removes the end of the clavicle bone (collarbone) at the point the bone makes a joint with the rest of the shoulder. This can be done with open incisions (Mumford procedure) or arthroscopically.
When the shoulder suffers trauma through repetitive use or other circumstances, it swells, creating pressure. Bones push against muscles and nerves in the shoulder from this pressure and cause pain for the patient. By removing some of the bone, the idea is that the pressure will decrease. Distal clavicle excisions are used to treat conditions like shoulder impingement syndrome, bursitis and tendonitis in the shoulder.
After the surgery, the patient has to undergo rehabilitation and physical therapy to build up the shoulder muscles. In the best case scenarios, a worker may be able to return to work a couple of months after the surgery, but there may be restrictions on the type of work they can do. Returning to heavy work may take several months or longer.
How Workers’ Compensation Handles Distal Clavicle Excisions
Workers’ compensation provides medical and disability benefits of 80 percent of average weekly spendable earnings for injuries that are work-related. Repetitive and cumulative injuries are compensable in addition to those arising out of a sudden accident.
An employer-chosen doctor will provide care and may recommend more conservative treatment before this surgery. If necessary, the surgeon may recommend surgery if the conservative approaches are unsuccessful. Workers should not seek care without approval from the doctor and workers’ comp insurer, as it may not be covered. If a worker disagrees with the care provided, he or she may seek alternate care by first discussing it with the employer and/or insurer and then taking the issue to the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner.
Eventually, the doctor may decide that an employee has reached a point where he or she can return to work with certain restrictions. The employer assigns the employee "light work" duties that meet these restrictions.
If the new wages are less than the worker's pre-injury wage, workers’ compensation insurance pays two-thirds of the difference in wages. If permanently impaired after reaching maximum medical cure, the worker may be entitled to permanent partial disability (PPD).
Shoulder injuries are industrial disabilities, so the worker’s:
- impairment rating;
- skill level; and
- more will factor into the length of time the worker will receive benefits.
Workers can also seek an independent medical exam if they disagree with the impairment rating assigned.
Where can I get help if I have a dispute with my workers’ comp claim?
The law firm of Walker, Billingsley & Bair in Des Moines can help you deal with any disputes that arise over the course of your claim to help you recover fair benefits. Contact us at (888) 435-9886 to schedule a free consultation today.