The rotator cuff and shoulder pain

rotator-cuffMuscles in the rotator cuff allow the should to rotate

The rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles in the shoulder, connecting the upper arm (humerus) to the shoulder blade (scapula).

They include:

• Supraspinaturs
• Infraspinatus
• Teres Minor
• Subscapularis

The rotator cuff tendon attaches the muscles to the head of the arm bone (humerus).  It provides stability to the shoulder joint. When either the muscles and/or tendon is damaged, it can cause shoulder pain.  The pain may limit your ability to  lift your arm up overhead, making everyday movements difficult to do.


Common Rotator Cuff Conditions

Rotator cuff tear:  an injury that tears a rotator cuff tendon usually already weakened by age or wear and tear. Symptoms include weakness in the affected arm and pain when sleeping on the affected shoulder.

Rotator cuff tendinopathy: repetitive overhead use of the affected arm (such as painting or throwing) causes swelling and cellular changes in the tendon, leading to pain at rest, on movement and at night.

Rotator cuff impingement:  the tendons of the rotator cuff are squeezed between the humerus and a bone called the acromion. Symptoms and treatment of impingement are similar to rotator cuff tendinopathy but there are many different causes of impingement.   Rotator cuff tendonopathy often leads to impingement.

Subacromial bursitis: inflammation of the small sac of fluid (bursa) that cushions the rotator cuff tendons from a nearby bone (the acromion).

Managing rotator cuff shoulder pain?

  • Relative rest from the aggravating movement and applying ice locally will help reduce acute shoulder pain levels.
  • Physiotherapy will reduce pain levels further and improve shoulder range of motion.  Treatment includes soft tissue therapy, joint mobilisation, dry needling, taping and posture correction.
  • Exercise therapy, especially rotator cuff strengthening exercises, will help prevent further irritation.

Prevention is key

To manage and prevent ongoing episodes it is important to correct the faulty biomechanics of the shoulder through targeted shoulder exercises.

This is where physiotherapy can help!

At Strive Physiotherapy Drummoyne, we can correctly diagnose the cause of your shoulder pain, ensuring the appropriate exercises are prescribed to get you back to the things you love to do.

Call us on 9819 6151 for an appointment.