What is a Pectoralis Major Injury?
The pectoralis major, one of the major muscles in the chest, allows the arms to move inwards towards the body, forwards, and backward. The muscle attaches to the collarbone and sternum and to the humerus bone in the upper bone by the pectoralis major tendon.
Injuries to the pectoralis major usually occur in athletes or other active people, such as heavy laborers. Injuries happen when a greater external force is put on the muscle than the muscle can put out while the arm is extended or rotated. Injuries can have a sudden, violent trauma or occur from chronic overuse. One of the most common sources of injury is lifting heavy weights during bench-press exercises. Strains generally happen with overuse over a long period of time, while sudden trauma generally results in tears.
The severity of the injury can range from bruising and swelling on the mild end of the spectrum to rips, tears, and even severing of the muscle and tendons on the more extreme end. Symptoms include swelling, pain, loss of motion, decreased muscle strength, and decreased muscle mass on the affected side. Severe injuries can leave one side of the body significantly weaker, forcing the other side to overcompensate and leaving the person prone to developing other injuries.
Diagnosing Pectoralis Major Injuries
Diagnosis of these injuries can be done through a clinical exam, though swelling from a recent injury can make it difficult to thoroughly examine the muscle. Once the swelling goes down, any deformities in the muscle are usually visible. Clinical exams include range-of-motion and strength testing. The doctor will ask about the source of the injury, the location and the severity of pain, and any other symptoms the patient may experience. A medical history can indicate if the patient may have other conditions that can cause similar symptoms, such as neuropathies and muscle wasting diseases.
Diagnostic testing may be done to determine the extent of the injuries and to see if any other condition may be causing symptoms. Testing includes:
- X-rays- to look for bone fragments, fractures, and breaks
- Computed Tomography (CT) scans- to further look for and evaluate fractures
- Ultrasound- to look for tears or ruptures of the tendons
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)- to fully examine the location and severity of the injury
Treating Pectoralis Major Injuries
Treatment for elderly or sedentary patients may be limited to rest, ice, and stretching techniques. People who have more severe injuries or who have physically demanding lifestyles will need to undergo surgery to recover.
Surgery is usually required to fully recover from pectoralis major injuries and recovery from surgery usually takes at least six months. While many people fully recover, others may suffer lasting effects from the injury. This can include lasting pain or weakness or reoccurring injuries.
Medication, both over-the-counter and prescription, is helpful in reducing pain and swelling. Non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help with both pain and inflammation. Severe injuries may be treated with prescription painkillers, such as opioids. Topical pain-relief creams and ice therapy can provide relief.
Physical therapy is crucial to recover from these injuries. Physical therapy is usually used in conjunction with other treatments, such as after surgeries or with medications. Alternative pain-management therapies have proven to be beneficial when used in conjunction with more traditional methods of treatment. These can include meditation, acupuncture, massage, cognitive behavioral therapy, and mindfulness techniques.
Disability Evaluation for Pectoralis Major Injuries
Some people are unable to work because of an injury to the pectoralis major. People who cannot work will need to apply for long-term disability benefits (LTD) for their condition. The insurance company will review their claim to see if they qualify under the conditions of that plan.
Under most LTD plans, a person must be unable to work in their position for the first 2 years of the policy. After those 2 years pass, they must be unable to work in almost any job to still qualify for benefits. Every plan is different, so it is important to review your policy for its specific requirements.
Evaluating Disability for People with Pectoralis Major Injuries
Disability claims are evaluated based on how the person is limited in their everyday activities. To evaluate disability status, adjusters look at what a person may still be able to do and what activities their condition prevents them from doing.
Since this is a major muscle group and the full use of the arms is necessary for most work, lasting damage to the pectoralis major can easily prevent someone from working. Strenuous jobs could be unsafe to do and athletes may not be able to return to their pre-injury performances. An injury to the dominant arm could prevent someone from performing even light-duty positions such as office work as typing and writing may be troublesome. Chronic pain can prevent a person from sleeping, leading to trouble focusing and making sound decisions or excessive daytime drowsiness.
Even if someone does not meet the requirements for disability for this injury, they may still qualify when other medical conditions and restrictions are considered. It is important to list all the conditions you have and how they can impact your ability to work.
What the Insurance Company Needs from You and Your Medical Providers
The insurance company will need to know how to contact all the doctors who have treated you for your injury so that they can get your records when evaluating your claim. You may need to send those records yourself if your insurance company cannot get them from your doctors. While all your medical records are important, it is especially helpful to include a history of any treatments and surgeries as well as records of your ongoing symptoms. If you have other medical conditions that can impact your quality of life, you should include those records as well.
The insurance company will need to see proof of your diagnosis and your ongoing symptoms, as well as evidence of how those symptoms affect your life. Providing detailed documentation is key to a successful claim. Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessments determine how you are affected by the condition and what you can do with your limitations. It is used to determine what jobs you may still be qualified to perform. Make sure that you are as honest as possible with your doctors so that they can complete a correct RFC for you.
Working with a Disability Attorney
If you have a pectoralis major injury, you may be intimidated by the long-term disability process. You do not have to fight the insurance companies alone. An experienced disability attorney will guide you through the process and give you the best chance of getting the benefits you deserve for your injury.
The experienced disability attorneys at the Ortiz law firm can help you through every step of the process, from initial application to potential appeals. Our law experts will focus on your case so you can focus on your illness. The Ortiz law firm has successfully represented people in disability cases across the United States. To see how we can help you win your long-term disability case, call us at (888) 321-8131.