Work Injuries

Daniel Schwartz, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon, Shoulder Specialist, Seattle, WA

About Workplace Shoulder Injuries

Workplace shoulder injuries can occur as a result of various incidents, impacting individuals across different professions. These injuries often stem from everyday tasks, repetitive motions, or unforeseen accidents, leading to strains, sprains, fractures, or dislocations in the shoulder. The workplace, regardless of the industry, poses unique challenges that can contribute to these injuries. Understanding the specific demands of different occupations is crucial in implementing effective preventive measures and ensuring a safe working environment.

Types of Workplace Shoulder Accidents

Workplace shoulder injuries can manifest in different ways, often linked to the nature of the tasks performed. Slips, trips, and falls are common causes, especially in environments where floors may be wet or uneven. Overexertion from lifting heavy objects or performing repetitive movements can lead to strains and sprains. Additionally, accidents involving machinery or falling objects may result in more severe injuries such as fractures or dislocations. It’s essential for employers and employees alike to be aware of potential risks in their work environment and take proactive measures to prevent these injuries.

Preventing Workplace Shoulder Injuries

  • Strains and Sprains: Sudden movements or lifting heavy objects can lead to strains or sprains in the shoulder muscles or ligaments.
  • Impingement Syndrome: Repetitive overhead movements in the workplace can cause the shoulder tendons to rub against the acromion, resulting in inflammation and pain.
  • Fractures: Falls or accidents in the workplace can lead to shoulder fractures, affecting the clavicle, scapula, or humerus.
  • Dislocations: Trauma from a fall can cause the shoulder joint to dislocate, requiring immediate attention.
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries: Overuse or sudden movements may lead to tears or inflammation in the rotator cuff, causing pain and reduced mobility.

Types of Workplace Shoulder Accidents

  • Ergonomics: Proper ergonomics in the workplace, including adjustable desks and chairs, can prevent strain during prolonged periods of sitting.
  • Training Programs: Implementing training programs that educate employees on proper lifting techniques and body mechanics can reduce the risk of injuries.
  • Safety Measures: Ensuring a hazard-free environment, including clean and dry floors, minimizes the risk of slips and falls.
  • Regular Breaks: Encouraging regular breaks helps prevent overuse injuries by allowing the muscles to rest and recover.
  • Protective Gear: Providing appropriate protective gear, such as shoulder pads for physically demanding tasks, adds an extra layer of injury prevention.

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Recovery and Rehabilitation:

Shoulder injuries in the workplace may require a phased approach to recovery:


  • Immediate Care: Swift attention to injuries with rest, ice, compression, and elevation (R.I.C.E.) to alleviate initial pain and swelling.
  • Medical Evaluation: Seek professional medical evaluation for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan tailored to the specific injury.
  • Rehabilitation: Customized rehabilitation programs focusing on strengthening, flexibility, and gradual return to activities are essential for optimal recovery.
  • Preventing Recurrence: Education on preventive measures and ergonomic practices at work can significantly reduce the risk of future shoulder injuries.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Workplace Shoulder Injuries:


Accurate diagnosis is fundamental in tailoring an effective treatment plan for workplace shoulder injuries. Medical professionals typically employ a combination of physical examinations, imaging studies (X-rays, MRI scans), and discussions about the individual’s work-related activities. Understanding the specific nature of the injury is crucial for recommending appropriate interventions.

Common Treatment Approaches

  • Rest and Ice: Initial management often involves rest to allow the injured shoulder to heal, accompanied by the application of ice to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.
  • Medications: Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed to manage discomfort and swelling.
  • Physical Therapy: Customized rehabilitation programs focusing on strengthening exercises, stretching, and range-of-motion exercises play a vital role in recovery.
  • Immobilization: For certain injuries, such as fractures or dislocations, immobilization using slings or braces may be necessary to promote healing.
  • Surgical Intervention: In severe cases or when conservative measures prove ineffective, surgical procedures, such as arthroscopy or open surgery, may be recommended to repair damaged tissues.

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Patient Testimonials

“Hello Dr. Schwartz & Melissa : ) Congratulations on your move! It sounds like your expertise is I consider you absolutely tops in your profession and your dedication. You have saved me from debilitating pain and instability from my injured shoulders. You and your team have always treated me with up most care and professionalism.. Your expertise and healing powers where evident from my first visit onward...I immediately felt GREAT and reassured that I made the right decision! I will have no problem recommending Dr. Schwartz M.D. to anyone. Thank-you.”


Wondering if someone could tell Dr. Schwartz that the Deltoid muscle lift exercises are definitely helping. It seems to be getting a little stronger already. I can’t lift my arm by itself yet, but, I can easily lower my arm slowly now, and my reach is a little better, too. I was even able to easily reach down to lace and tie my own hiking boots today! . I really appreciate him, so didn’t want to wait to tell him till my next appointment in January.”


“Dr Schwartz, You performed should surgery on my shoulder two years ago and I have had a great outcome! I am from Alaska and flew down to have you fix my shoulder so that I could resume my life as a massage therapist. Everything is going great!! I so appreciate your help in my recovery. The reason I am writing is that I have a client with a reverse shoulder surgery and I am trying to help him recover but I am not able to really figure out how the muscles all work to move the shoulder...I find that the deltoid is the main mover now but I was wondering if you had any resources to help my understand how all the muscles attach now so that I can help my client. His surgery was in California in January so not done in your office. I realize that this may be a lot to ask but if you could help I'd appreciate it. Thanks! ~wendy hooker PS We had our first big Aurora show last night and it was spectacular!! :)”


“I was put at ease from my 1st visit with Dr. Schwartz. He and Joy, his nurse, and surgery schedulers were very professional and thorough. Most of all, I felt very comfortable on the day of surgery, and afterwards. Dr. Schwartz was very thorough in his explanations. It was so nice to see my surgeon and nurse the morning of surgery smiling at me. Overall a very positive experience!”


“I’ve had very positive experiences with my treatment and the staff. I’ve been really happy with the results of my shoulder surgery (rotator cuff repair) and am more than happy to make referrals of my friends to see Dr. Schwartz and Joy in clinic! If I had to do it all over again, I no doubt would return to see Dr. Schwartz at The Sports Medicine Clinic.”


“I had my shoulder replaced with Dr. S and my shoulder has not felt this good in years! I can finally sleep peacefully at night, and move my arm in ways I could have only dreamed off preop! If you have questions ask Dr. S to send you my way, I’ll be more than happy to talk to you about getting you shoulder replaced with him.tions ask Dr. S to send you my way, I’ll be more than happy to talk to you about getting you shoulder replaced with him.”


“I suffered from multiple shoulder dislocations, and was treated surgically by Dr. Dan Schwartz and was impressed by his thoroughness from the start. He listened very well, and I felt at ease with him from the start. He explained all of the surgical options, and we proceeded with the right option that was right for me. Since surgery, I have been so happy and have strongly recommended him to anyone that will listen! Thanks Dr. Schwartz!”


Thank you so much Dr. Daniel Schwartz for your great work! As a Physical Therapist I did a lot of research to find a shoulder surgeon highly qualified to carry out my Mother's reverse shoulder replacement. I appreciated your taking the time to explain the procedure to my parents, and the surgery turned out better than my mom ever expected. Your staff was kind, professional, and competent. It was well worth the drive from Eastern Washington and I will recommend you to all my patients in need of a shoulder surgery.”


This is the first online comment that I have ever left for a person, product or service, however I was so impressed by Dr. Schwartz as a human being and a surgeon that I felt compelled to share my story. I had a bone chip in my elbow that intermittently (depending where it floated) rendered my elbow immobile. Despite a fairly lengthy procedure, within two days I had minimal swelling and near full mobility. I should note that I was the last patient of the week on Friday afternoon (most medical advisers would recommend against this time slot), and Dr. Schwartz"s previous operation had been particularly challenging. Yet he was kind, caring, and focused in our pre-operative meeting and he performed flawlessly. I might also note that I'm a guy who tries to avoid hospitals and doctors whenever possible, in fact I didn't even go to my primary care doctor until months after the ski accident that caused my injury. I would give kudos to Dr. Schwartz and special mention of his nurse, Joy, during my exams and surgery for allaying my fears and phobias and making the whole episode as good as one could ever expect.”

Gary P Ballard

Dr. Schwartz and Joy are the best!!”


“Greetings: I am an attorney who represents Ms. Laura Kent, a former patient of Dr. Schwartz in 2018. This case is coming up for arbitration in a couple weeks and I would like to get an opinion from Dr. Schwartz as to whether the diagnosis he made oflateral epicondylitis of the right elbow was causally connected to the motor vehicle collision in this matter. Please call or email at your earliest convenience.”

Joe Baker

Just a note to say thank you for the thorough and well-composed information about rotator cuff and sleep. It was really the best I could find. Much gratitude.”


“Was referred by a past patient of yours. Would like to see how quickly I could get in for a Grade 3 AC tear.”



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