What is the Rotator Cuff and How Can You Injure It?

Shoulder pain is no joke. It can be frustrating and seriously restrict your mobility. Many times shoulder pain is the result of a rotator cuff injury. So what is the rotator cuff and what sorts of activities are likely to cause injury? Here is more information.

Shoulder Anatomy

Your shoulder joints are made up of all sorts of bones, muscles, tendon, ligaments, and other connective tissue. Specifically, the shoulder consists of three bones – the humerus, clavicle, and scapula. The humerus is the long bone of the upper arm. The head of the humerus fits into the glenoid fossa area of the scapula, commonly called the shoulder blade. This articulation forms the glenohumeral joint.

Meanwhile, the clavicle or collarbone joins with the scapula’s acromion, the highest point of the shoulder. This arrangement is the acromioclavicular joint at the top of the shoulder. Together with the glenohumeral joint, the acromioclavicular joint comprise what we think of as the shoulder.

Of course, a joint consisting of only bones would be very unstable. So, the shoulder is also supported by muscles and tendons. Four muscles make up the rotator cuff, the collective structure that stabilises the shoulder. The tendons of these muscles also form part of the rotator cuff.


Rotator Cuff Injuries

Without an intact rotator cuff, your shoulder movement is very limited and painful. Unfortunately, some activities are prone to injure the four tendons of the rotator cuff. These are usually repetitive motion activities – baseball pitching, weight lifting, swimming or rowing, etc. Non-athletic activities can also injure the rotator cuff. These motions include overhead work or any activity where you regularly lift your arms above your chest.

A tear is the most common type of rotator cuff injury. Although surgery may sometimes be offered, most rotator cuff tears can be treated more conservatively with modalities like rest, heat and cold application, and physical therapy. Chiropractic medicine incorporates many of these treatments and may be able to relieve the pain and impaired motion from your rotator cuff tear.

Impingement, or inflammation of the rotator cuff tendons, can also occur. In this case, chiropractic treatment is ideal for the release of the irritated tendons and the resulting improvement of symptoms.

If you’re experiencing shoulder soreness and irritation or having difficulty moving your shoulder, turn to your chiropractor for help. They can help with an accurate diagnosis and gentle treatments to get your shoulder back to being pain-free and mobile.