Rotator Cuff

What is the rotator cuff?

Firstly, the rotator cuff is the group of 4 muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint.

Since they do this to give stability to the shallow socket shoulder it also allows a large range of movement. The rotator cuff, therefore, holds the ball of the shoulder joint in the correct position, allowing it to move in a controlled way.

Each one of muscles is part of the rotator cuff and plays an important role:

  • Supraspinatus. This holds your humerus in place and keeps your upper arm stable. And helps lift your arm.
  • Infraspinatus. This is the main muscle that lets you rotate and extend your shoulder.
  • Teres Minor. This is the smallest rotator cuff muscle. Its main job is to assist with rotation of the arm away from the body.
  • Subscapularis. This holds your upper arm bone to your shoulder blade and helps you rotate your arm, hold it straight out and lower it.


Different types of rotator cuff disorder can cause different symptoms, but common features include PAIN :

  • that is worse during activities that involve your arm being above shoulder level – for example when brushing your hair,
  • when you move your arm in an arc away from your body
  • on the front and side of your shoulder
  • at night

Common rotator cuff injuries

A rotator cuff tear is often the result of wear and tear from daily use. You’re more likely to have this if you have a job where you need to move your arm a certain way over and over, like a painter or a carpenter, or you play sports like tennis and baseball. It also can happen suddenly if you fall on your arm or try to lift something heavy. It’s usually treated with physical therapy acupuncture and medication. Surgery may be indicated if the muscle cannot repair.

Tendinitis is inflammation or irritation of a tendon that attaches to a bone. It causes pain in the area just outside the joint. Common types of tendinitis include Supraspinatus and infraspinatus tendonitis. Both of these injuries may need surgery if the tendon is torn or gets calcified

Bursitis is when the bursa (a small sac filled with fluid that protects your rotator cuff) gets irritated. That can happen when you repeat the same motion over and over again, like throwing a cricket ball or lifting something over your head.


Tendinitis and bursitis can get better with rest and a combination of ice and heat. OTC (over-the-counter) pain relievers like aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen may also help. Persistent problems need an accurate diagnosis and a thorough understanding of the strain of the shoulder. Typically the upper back and shoulder mechanics must be assessed on either side. This also extends down into the hand and wrist. On many occasions, we see that the shoulders are imbalanced with each other, this may include the hips and lower back. The focus is also on correct sporting technique and shoulder stability.

Tendinitis and bursitis may get better over time. Initial RICE treatment includes:

  • Avoiding repetitive motions or overhead sports (tennis, baseball, volleyball, swimming, and others)
  • A combination of ice and heat
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Stretching and exercises to increase mobility
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