Rotator Cuff Injuries

Have you ever experienced shoulder pain before? If the answer is yes then you are certainly not alone. Musculoskeletal related shoulder injuries and rotator cuff injuries are extremely common injuries, with approximately 50% of the population experiencing at least one episode of shoulder pain each year. 

What is the Rotator Cuff? 

The Rotator Cuff of the shoulder consists of four muscles that work together to provide strength and stability to the shoulder as it moves.


Image 1: The Four Rotator Cuff Muscles,

What are the symptoms of a Rotator Cuff injury?

Injury to the Rotator Cuff generally presents as pain and weakness with movement of the shoulder, in particular; lifting the shoulder beyond 90 degrees, reaching overhead, reaching behind the back and rotation of the shoulder. 

What causes these injuries? 

This is predominantly the result of excessive load on the rotator cuff tendons. This can be due to structural changes within the tendons themselves or from external anatomical structures that surround the shoulder. Structural changes associated directly with the tendons generally occur with the natural process of aging. Theinclude; altered blood supply, tendon degeneration and tendon overload, overuse or trauma. On the other hand, factors external to the tendon are commonly anatomical structures that impede on the shoulder joint space, resulting in compression of the rotator cuff tendons.

How do we manage this? 

Our primary focus for client’s who present with Rotator Cuff injuries is to firstly reduce their pain as well as swelling and irritation of the rotator cuff tendons. Once pain levels have reduced, the focus is then on restoring range of motion of the shoulder. Following this with a targeted exercise program aimed at restoring and re-training shoulder movement patterns. We then follow on with shoulder strength and endurance, stability of the shoulder complex and postural training. 

Our Top 5 Tips to minimise Rotator Cuff injuries: 

  • Reduce risk factors including; awkward and sustained postures, repetitive and heavy workloads, sustained and repetitive work with hands above shoulder height and a lack of upper body rest 
  • Practice good posture to reduce compression on the shoulder joint and rotator cuff tendons
  • Incorporate shoulder control and shoulder stability exercises into your exercise program in addition to strength exercises 
  • Optimise movement of the scapula and thoracic spine to enhance and assist shoulder function
  • Correct management of work and training load to reduce sudden and increased load on the Rotator Cuff 

If you are experiencing shoulder pain or would like to seek further advice on how to keep your shoulders healthy as you progress through your 2023 fitness journey, Click here to book with one of our practitioners. 

Written by Karen Hang – Physiotherapist (APAM) 

For an appointment with Karen in our Brisbane City Clinic – Book here

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