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How do I know if I have a Rotator Cuff Injury?

What Are Rotator Cuff Injuries?

At our Sheffield Sports Massage clinic one of the most common injuries we treat are rotator cuff injuries. The rotator cuff is actually a group of 4 small muscles. The function of the rotator cuff is to stabilise the arm into the shoulder socket.


The most commonly injured rotator cuff muscles are the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, and teres minor. The subscapularis is the least injured. The supraspinatus attaches on the top of the scapula and passes through the acromial arch to attach on the top of the arm. The fact that the supraspinatus passes through this arch is one of the reasons it is the most injured and talked about rotator cuff muscle. When the supraspinatus tendon is injured from the subacromial arch it may also be diagnosed as impingement syndrome. Other muscles and soft tissue that can be affected through impingement syndrome is the long head of the bi-ceps tendon and the sub- acromial bursae.





How do I know if I have a Rotator Cuff Injury?

When the arm is raised into abduction (out to the side), or into flexion (in the front of the body), or internally rotated the space between the acromial arch and the arm is narrowed. This space is occupied by the supraspinatus, the long head of the biceps tendon, and the sub-acromial bursae. This is one reason why sports with an overhead movement can injure these structures.


Sports like baseball, tennis (overhand serve), or swimming (the crawl) use movements overhead. Also professions where you have to work overhead such as painters, joiners, or plumbers are susceptible to this type of injury and we regularly treat. Computer and office workers can also be prone to shoulder impingement injuries because of postures that encourage a rounding of the shoulders that creates an inward rotation of the shoulder joint.


When the shoulder joint rotates medially the large head of the arm closes up the space. So now that you tend to have shoulders that rotate inwardly, anytime you raise your arm above your head the head of the humurus bangs into the supraspinatus tendon. This is one reason why, when we assess and treat you at our clinic, we will tell you that if you perform lateral raises, to make sure your thumb is pointed up (this encourages lateral rotation which increases the space.)


If you feel like you may have a rotator cuff injury you can contact our clinic and we can advise the best treatments to relieve your symptoms.




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