Rotator Cuff Injuries

What is your Rotator Cuff?

The shoulder joint is a relatively unstable ball and socket joint. It is often likened to a golf ball on a tee.

The subscapularis, supraspinatus, infraspinatus and teres minor are small muscles that stabilise and control your shoulder movement on your shoulder blade (scapula).

Collectively, these four muscles are known as the Rotator Cuff. Each rotator cuff muscle has a contractile muscle belly (red) and a tendon (white) that inserts into the bone (head of humerus).

What Rotator Cuff Injuries are Common?

Your rotator cuff muscles and tendons are vulnerable to tears, tendinopathies and impingement related disorders.

Rotator cuff injuries vary from mild tendon inflammation (tendonitis), bursitis (inflammed bursa), calcific tendonitis (bone forming within the tendon) through to partial and full thickness tendon tears, which may require surgery.

Some shoulder injuries are more common than others.

These include:

  • Rotator Cuff Impingement Syndrome
  • Rotator Cuff Tendonitis/ Tendinopathies
  • Shoulder Bursitis (fluid-filled sac that provides a cushion between a bone and tissues)
  • Calcific Tendonitis
  • Rotator Cuff Tears
  • Bicipital Tendonitis

Where is your Rotator Cuff?

where is your rotator cuff

Your rotator cuff muscles hold you arm (humerus) onto your shoulder blade (scapula). Most the the rotator cuff tendons are hidden under the bony point of your shoulder (acromion), which as well as protecting your rotator cuff can also impinge into your rotator cuff structures.

What Commonly Goes Wrong with Your Rotator Cuff?

The rotator cuff tendons are protected from simple knocks and bumps by bones (mainly the acromion) and ligaments that form a protective arch over the top of your shoulder.

In between the rotator cuff tendons and the bony arch is the sub-acromial bursa (a lubricating sack), which helps to protect the tendons from touching the bone and provide a smooth surface for the tendons to glide over.

However, nothing is fool-proof. Any of these structures can be injured – whether they be your bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments or bursas.

Rotator cuff impingement syndrome is a condition where your rotator cuff tendons are intermittently trapped and compressed during shoulder movements This causes injury to the shoulder tendons and bursa resulting in painful shoulder movements.

What Causes Rotator Cuff Impingement?

Your Physiotherapist is an expert in the assessment and correction of shoulder rotator cuff injuries. Any deficiencies that they detect during your assessment will be an important component of your rehabilitation.

Your Physiotherapist will be able to guide you in the appropriate treatment and exercises for your rotator cuff injury after their thorough assessment.