The Journey of Recovery: Navigating Shoulder Injuries
& Workers' Compensation in New Jersey

Table of Contents

The recovery from a workplace shoulder injury in New Jersey can be challenging for the injured worker, from a disrupted life requiring medical intervention to the application of often complex concepts of New Jersey workers’ compensation law. The injured worker is on a journey at times full of challenges. 

Physician discusses results of a diagnostic test by pointing to the area of shoulder dislocation with injured worker

Shoulder injuries in the workplace can turn your life upside down in an instant. Everyday tasks suddenly become monumental challenges, and the journey to recovery feels like a marathon. But there’s hope. This article discusses the recovery process and the complexities of New Jersey’s workers’ compensation system. 

Journey through Shoulder Injury Recovery: Sam's Story

Let’s imagine the case of Sam, a construction worker in Trenton. Sam’s job required him to often work with heavy equipment and manual labor, making him no stranger to physically demanding tasks. But one Tuesday afternoon, Sam’s routine work took a sudden turn. While operating a jackhammer, Sam suffered a severe accident that resulted in a torn rotator cuff in his shoulder. The immediate impact left Sam with intense pain and a limited range of motion.

Sam’s injury isn’t uncommon. Shoulders are particularly vulnerable to workplace injuries due to their complex structure and the crucial role they play in many types of manual labor. But every shoulder injury, like every worker, is unique. The severity, type of injury, and the worker’s overall health all play significant roles in the recovery process.

For Sam, the road to recovery was filled with challenges and triumphs.  We walk through his recovery journey and discuss some of the possible steps involved in healing from a workplace shoulder injury:

Initial Pain Relief

After Sam’s injury, the immediate focus was on pain management. His doctor prescribed over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling and pain. These served as the first line of defense, allowing Sam to sleep and eat normally again.

Physical Therapy

Sam began physical therapy with the pain under control. He met with a physical therapist who designed a customized set of exercises to strengthen his shoulder muscles and improve flexibility. Sam’s routine included:

  • Gentle Range-of-Motion Exercises


  • Progressive Strength Building


  • Conditioning for Workplace Activities

Corticosteroid Injections

Sam experienced lingering discomfort despite medication and therapy. His doctor suggested corticosteroid injections, a more aggressive approach to pain management. These injections brought much-needed relief and allowed Sam to participate more effectively in his physical therapy sessions.

Surgical Intervention

Sam’s condition didn’t improve with conservative treatments, and his doctor recommended surgery. An arthroscopic procedure was performed to repair the torn tissues in Sam’s shoulder. Surgery was a significant step but necessary for Sam to regain full use of his shoulder.

Post-Surgical Rehabilitation

Sam had to rest and allow his shoulder to heal. Once healed, he underwent rigorous rehabilitation to rebuild strength and regain motion. This phase was challenging but crucial in reclaiming his shoulder’s functionality.

Lifestyle Changes

Sam’s recovery didn’t end at the hospital door. He had to commit to a healthier lifestyle for the sake of his shoulder. Regular exercise, maintaining a balanced diet, practicing good posture, and making workplace adjustments became his new norm.

Patience and Positivity

Sam’s journey wasn’t easy or quick. It required patience, a positive mindset, and trust in the recovery process. While it’s been a long road, Sam’s resilience has carried him through.

Remember, recovery from a shoulder injury is a unique journey for everyone. Like Sam, your path might have ups and downs, but each step brings you closer to regaining your health and hopefully returning to the life you love. The following section discusses how New Jersey workers’ compensation can help you along this journey.

A quote by Abraham Lincoln comes to mind during these challenging times.

"The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.' Progress, no matter how small, is still progress. Celebrating the little victories along the way is important, like the first pain-free day or the first time you can lift your arm without discomfort."

Recovering worker receives physical therapy after rotator cuff tear surgery of using a stretch bank as resistance training

The Interplay of Physicians and
New Jersey Workers' Compensation

In the context of New Jersey’s workers’ compensation law, physicians serve as key players throughout the shoulder injury assessment, treatment, and recovery process. They diagnose the shoulder injury, devise a treatment plan, monitor recovery, and eventually determine when a patient has reached their Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI).

Your understanding of Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) is important. MMI is a term used when your condition has improved as much as it will, given the medical treatments available. It is a medical opinion rendered by a medical professional. While your employer or insurance carrier is obligated to provide necessary and reasonable medical treatment for the shoulder injury, this obligation generally ceases once you reach MMI, when further recovery or improvement is not anticipated.

However, reaching MMI does not necessarily mean you’ve regained your pre-injury health or are ready to return to work. In New Jersey, once you reach MMI, your employer’s insurance company may stop paying for medical treatment for the shoulder injury, even if you’re not fully recovered. 

Remember, while physicians play a critical role in your recovery journey and the workers’ compensation process, you also have an active role and rights that must be safeguarded. An attorney can help you navigate the system’s complexities, protecting your rights and interests.

Infographic Summary of Article

A step by step guide for a shoulder injury recovery for New Jersey workers

"For the most part, if you're willing to work hard enough, you can recover from most injuries. Having that mentality really helps you keep moving forward."

Turn to Experience and Empathy:
Start Your Recovery Journey Today

Shoulder injuries at work can be tough, both physically and legally. But remember, you don’t have to navigate this journey alone. As a seasoned New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney, John F. Renner has over 25 years of experience advocating for injured workers. He’s helped injured workers through the intricate maze of their workers’ compensation claims. Don’t let the complexities of the law add more stress to your recovery process. Reach out to John F. Renner for legal support that’s informed, compassionate, and, above all, dedicated to your rights and recovery. You can reach our office at (856) 596-8000

Picture of About the Author

About the Author

John F. Renner is the founding attorney and principal of John F. Renner P.C. He has more than 25 years of experience representing injured workers in New Jersey. Mr. Renner guides his clients through the complex maze of New Jersey Workers Compensation Law for the best possible outcome.


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