Posts Tagged ‘Shoulder pain’

Rotator cuff injuries

What is the rotator cuff?

A rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint.  The rotator cuff keeps the head of your arm bone (the humerus) firmly within the shoulder socket and allows you to raise and rotate your arm.



Common injuries

Injuries to the rotator cuff are common and can range from mild inflammation (tendinitis) to a complete tear in the tendon.  Pain may present in the shoulder as a dull ache and it may be difficult to move your arm up over your head and/or behind you.

The incidence of rotator cuff injuries does tend to increase with age due to normal wear and tear on the rotator cuff tendon and usually present as a tear in the tendon.


Injuries in younger people

Rotator cuff injuries can also occur at a younger age in professions that require repeated overhead movements such as painters and carpenters and in sports activities such as baseball and swimming.

Rotator cuff injuries can also present after a fall on the shoulder.


Types of rotator cuff tears

Tears can be either partial where there is one of the rotator cuff muscles tendon is frayed or damaged – or a complete tear where the tear goes all the way through the tendon.

rotator cuff tears

Recovering from a rotator cuff injury

The good news is that most people with an injury to the rotator cuff can manage their symptoms and make a full recovery with physiotherapy. Treatment depends on the type of injury but includes,

  • soft tissue therapy to release tight musculature,
  • exercise management to build up strength in the rotator cuff and other shoulder stabilisers and
  • avoiding overhead movements until the tendon heals.

Physiotherapy treatment may also include taping or a specific shoulder brace to unload the tendon.


Occasionally surgery may be required

If there is a substantial injury to the rotator cuff, surgery may be required.  If this is the case physiotherapy can also help with both your pre-operative and post-operative rehabilitation.


Do you need help with shoulder pain?

If so, contact us on (02)  4454 4588.

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.