The rotator cuff are four deep muscles which extend from the shoulder blade to the arm bone. They control movement in the shoulder joint. They attach to the bones via tendons. Both the tendons and the muscles are susceptible to tearing and inflammation.
Rotator cuff tears occur due to injury or overuse. Actvities that require overhead movements such as swimming, weight-lifting and throwing tend to cause such problems. One of the most common injuries is to the supraspinatus tendon which runs through a small space between the top of the armbone and the tip of the shoulder. The tendon is susceptible to wear and tear here and can often rip.
The symptoms of a rotator cuff injury are pain at the top of the upper arm. Lifting the arm up to the side is usually painful, particularly around 90 degrees.
Early management of a rotator cuff injury involves activity modification. Applying ice every few hours for 20 minutes can also help. After this, an Osteopath will determine whether an MRI is neccesary to highlight the severity of the injury.
If the pain is severe enough, a consultant may give a localised cortico-steroid injection to reduce the inflammation. Following this, it’s important to begin a thorough rehabilitation programme to regain full range of motion and strength in the shoulder.