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Rotator Cuff Problems

Rotator Cuff Problems

There are many muscles operating around the shoulder joint. Typically these muscles can be split into two groups depending on their function – those which stabilise the shoulder and those which move the shoulder.

The group which moves the shoulder comprises big muscles that generate movement of the arm – these are biceps, triceps, deltoid, pectorals, latisimus dorsi and trapezius.

The stability acts to help control the position of the ball (head of the humerus) in the socket (glenoid) during movement, allowing the shoulder joint to work more effectively. The main stabilising muscle group is collectively called the rotator cuff and includes 4 muscles and their tendons: supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis and teres minor.

A problem with the rotator cuff muscle often results in shoulder pain. This may be due to a local injury to the muscle or to its tendon (rotator cuff tear), a problem with the tendon (rotator cuff tendinopathy) or an impingement (or pinching) of the tendon as it runs underneath the tip of the shoulder blade (impingement syndrome).

These three conditions can result in shoulder or upper arm pain, functional limitations such as difficulty with overhead activities or reaching behind your back, difficulty lying on your side and often weakness in your arm. 

An assessment with a physiotherapist should help to determine which condition you are suffering with and then determine a suitable rehabilitation strategy to resolve the issues.