Rotator Cuff diagramRotator cuff injuries are one of the most common reasons for shoulder pain. It can range from simple muscle strain to a complete tear leading to serious disruption of work/sporting activity and lifestyle.

What causes Rotator Cuff injury?

A rotator cuff injury involves one or more of the four muscles in the shoulder. It can come on suddenly and be associated with a specific injury such as a fall (acute), or it may be something that gets gradually worse over time with activity that aggravates the muscle (chronic). Occasionally, even a simple act like rolling over in bed or reaching out can result in a rotator cuff injury. These injuries are very common on the sports field too; we often see these injuries associated with Cricket and Rugby due to repeated use of the arm when performing.

Rotator Cuff injury can range from an inflammation of the muscle without any permanent damage, such as tendinitis or tendinopathy, to a complete or partial tear of the muscle that may require surgery. Full assessment by our CharteredPhysiotherapists will provide a diagnosis and guidance on the best way to proceed in correcting the problem. This could involve referral for diagnostic imaging, specific physiotherapy treatment of the problem or referral to Specialist Shoulder Surgeon.

The shoulder joint connects the upper arm to the upper part of the body. It consists of three bones: the clavicle(collarbone), the scapula(shoulder blade), and thehumerus (upper arm bone).

Several different ligaments (connective tissues that attach bone to bone) are involved in stabilizing the shoulder joint, particularly in the front. The muscles of the rotator cuff stabilize the back of the shoulder joint. These muscles help to keep the head of the humerus in place against the shoulder blade as the ball and socket joint is quite shallow. The rotator cuff is comprised of four muscles (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis).

How is it diagnosed?

Specific testing and examination within your initial assessment from your Physiotherapist enables most diagnoses to be made. For some injuries it may require ultrasound scan to image the rotator cuff structures in more detail and some problems require Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Our Physiotherapy team will guide you through this process to allow the best management of your injury.

Treatment

Following full assessment a specific treatment approach is devised for your injury.

Treatment needs to be specifically tailored for these injuries to cater for your level of fitness, activity and personal expectations.

Treatment can involve;

  • Deep Frictional Massage.
  • Specific Rehabilitation Exercises (focused on normal movement patterns and avoiding recurrence).
  • Mobilisation of the shoulder.
  • Shortwave Diathermy.
  • Ultrasound Therapy.
  • Acupuncture.
  • Massage.
  • Posture Re-education.

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