What is the Rotator Cuff?

The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that begin on the scapula (shoulder blade) and attach onto the humerus (upper arm bone). They work to rotate the arm inwards (subscapularis,) and outwards (infraspinatus, supraspinatus, teres minor) and help stabilise the glenohumeral (shoulder) joint. Often the long head of biceps is included in this group as the fifth rotator cuff as it helps to stabilise the anterior (front) aspect of the shoulder.

What is a Rotator Cuff injury?

The rotator cuff muscles are quite commonly injured due to the large amount of mobility in the shoulder. The tendons of the muscles also naturally degenerate with age. There are several different ways the rotator cuff can be injured:

  • Rotator cuff impingement – one or more of the muscles gets pinched in the shoulder joint.
  • Rotator cuff tendonitis/tendinopathies – the tendon of the muscle degenerates and can become inflamed.
  • Rotator cuff muscle or tendon tears – the muscle and/or tendon can be torn.
  • Calcific tendonitis – calcium builds up in the tendon and causes irritation and inflammation of the tendon.
  • Associated shoulder bursitis – the bursa (a small sac) becomes irritated and inflamed within the shoulder joint. This can contribute to rotator cuff impingement.

What causes a Rotator Cuff injury?

 Research into risk factors for rotator cuff injury is limited, however the following factors may contribute to injury:

  • Poor posture – rounded shoulders, forward head position, rounded upper back, poor core stability
  • Age
  • Overhead work/activities/sport
  • Repetitive work/activities/sport

How does physiotherapy help?

Seeing a physiotherapist will give you an accurate diagnosis of your injury. Our physiotherapists can refer you for additional imaging if needed.

Once a diagnosis is made, treatment options include:

  • Postural correction
  • Taping
  • Dry needling
  • Massage
  • Stretching
  • Strengthening and stabilising exercises
  • Hot/cold therapy
  • Biomechanical analysis and correction

What should I do if I think I have a rotator cuff injury?

Call the physiotherapists at Back2Balance Physiotherapy to make an appointment on 3352 5311 for an assessment, accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.