Do you struggle to comb your luscious locks in the morning? Or how about reaching into the overhead cupboard to grab a snack? Or maybe you struggle to sleep on a particular side at night due to an ache in the shoulder. If this sounds familiar, you may have a rotator cuff injury.

Guy has pain in the neck

Rotator cuff injuries are a vastly over-diagnosed shoulder condition and although the rotator cuff should not be to blame in all shoulder cases, these muscles are often involved. A sacrifice in stability for increased mobility in the joint, shoulder joints, are often the subject in sporting injuries.

The purpose of the following article is to explain and educate you on the nature of rotator cuff injuries.

To properly understand the nature of rotator cuff injuries, knowledge of the anatomy and functional movement of this complex is important. The rotator cuff complex, comprised of 4 muscles (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor & subscapularis), is involved in stability and rotational movements of the glenohumeral (shoulder) joint. Without going into extensive anatomical detail, these muscles aid stability, enable external and internal rotations of the shoulder, which means when placed in compromising positions, are at risk of minor strains through to full thickness tears.

Like most conditions, symptoms are of course going to vary. This may depend on the severity, how you injured yourself and which muscle/s are actually involved. Symptoms you may experience with a rotator cuff injury can involve:

  • Difficulty and pain with overhead movements
  • Decrease in range of movement
  • Pain or dull ache over the side and top of the shoulder
  • Weakness when trying to carry an object or lift the arm
  • Pain on side sleeping

The most common risk factors for injuring your rotator cuff muscles include (but not limited to):

  • Repetitive or explosive overhead activities eg. tennis, basketball
  • FOOSH – fall on outstretched hand injuries
  • Age – as age increases risk of injury to RC follows
  • Direct impact to the shoulder by contact sports such as rugby

If you have experienced any of these symptoms and/or fall under any of the risk factor categories, then book in for a consultation today and have your shoulder assessed, as early intervention is the best way to have you back on the field as soon as possible.

Article written by Dr Michael Smith (Chiropractor)